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Bird Flu Epidemic Stalls French Foie Gras Production

Foie gras is banned across the around the world.

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An outbreak of the bird flu virus H5N8 in France has hit the largest poultry flock in the European Union, resulting in the slaughter of thousands of ducks. Over 600,000 ducks have either been killed by the virus or slaughtered on infected farms and 920,000 are set to be culled in a preventive eradication program enacted by French officials. Of the 152 outbreaks reported in France, 72 were in its southwestern Gers region.

The scourge of the flu will cost French farmers over €128 million, drastically reduce the region’s foie gras output, and cause a huge price jump for the delicacy across Europe. This latest outbreak comes as farmers attempt to bounce back after an outbreak in early 2016 caused a 25 percent drop in duck and geese output from France’s foie gras-producing region. France usually produces 75 percent of the world’s foie gras.

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Due to the virus, foie gras producers have been banned from exporting the product outside of Europe which is music to the ears of animal rights activists. Foie gras means “fat liver” in French and is made by force-feeding ducks through tubes. This causes a duck’s liver to expand ten times its size, creating a rich, buttery taste and a delicate texture. Foie gras is banned in many countries across the world and, stateside, it’s production is not allowed in the state of California or the city of Chicago, Illinois.

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