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Friday, May 24, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

PETA Claims Restaurant Still Sells Foie Gras

LOS ANGELES (CN) - A Hermosa Beach restaurant is still selling foie gras, despite telling a federal court it no longer sells it, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals claims in court.

The animal rights group sued Hot's Restaurant Group in Superior Court. It seeks an injunction ordering the restaurant, Hot's Kitchen, to stop selling foie gras.

Foie gras is traditionally made by force-feeding corn to geese to fatten their livers.

California's bird feeding law , enacted through the Health and Safety Code, imposes a $1,000 per day penalty on anyone who force-feeds birds to enlarge their livers, effectively banning the delicacy in the state.

PETA claims Hot's Kitchen is trying to duck the ban by offering foie gras as a complimentary side with a menu item called 'The Burger.'

"Defendant charges a higher price for 'The Burger' as compared to other burgers that are not served with foie gras. As such, any suggestion that defendant served or serves foie gras without a charge is a transparent and intentional attempt to circumvent the law prohibiting the sale of foie gras," the complaint states.

PETA claims its members visited Hot's Kitchen and secretly videotaped the restaurant's staff, who acknowledged the burger comes with foie gras.

PETA said in a statement that it asked Hermosa Beach police to enforce the Health and Safety Code, but "local authorities have had a lot on their plate and have yet to make their move."

Hot's Restaurant Group and others sued the state this year over its bar on foie gras, asking a federal judge to declare the law unconstitutional.

Hot's Kitchen co-owner and chef Sean Cheney told the court in a sworn declaration that his business no longer sells foie gras. But PETA claims Cheney continued to sell the food, even after the Federal Court upheld the constitutionality of the ban.

"No restaurant can act outside the law by illegally selling the diseased livers of abused birds, and PETA will help make sure that this one doesn't," PETA attorney Jeff Kerr said in statement. "Serving a 'complimentary side of foie gras' is as cruel as it is unlawful."

PETA is represented by house attorney Matthew Strugar.

Hot's Kitchen spokeswoman Kelley Coughlan told Courthouse News in an email that she could not "responsibly comment" on the lawsuit, since the restaurant had not been served.

"Publicity stunts such as the filing of an outrageous, baseless lawsuit, followed by the issuance of press releases are nothing more than an attempt to exploit the media by stoking controversial flames and are designed to line the pockets of profiteers," said Coughlan, a managing partner at Melrose Public Relations.

"If and when Hot's is legally served, we will be happy to provide a statement that speaks to the allegations after we have had an opportunity to review the complaint. Hot's stands by its previous statement that foie gras can be made humanely; and we continue to provide our customers with wholesome, humane animal products."

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