Updated: Friday, 17 January 2014 02:55 | By Agence France-Presse

Last Danish supermarket pulls foie gras from shelves

The last Danish supermarket to sell foie gras has pulled the French delicacy from its shelves over animal cruelty concerns, the company said on Thursday.


Last Danish supermarket pulls foie gras from shelves

Foie gras are prepare before being packed, on February 28, 2013 in Cahors, southwestern France - by Remy Gabalda

"There's been a widespread debate on animal welfare in Denmark," said Martin Brinch Joehncke, director of operations at the SuperBest chain.

"Based on that, we've taken the position that from an animal welfare view, it's not justifiable to continue selling it," he added.

A relatively small Danish retailer, SuperBest operates 92 stores that are owned by the local businessmen that run them. Between 10 and 20 outlets had chosen to sell foie gras, Brinch Joehncke said.

"We were the last supermarket to sell what is a legal product, but nevertheless contentious," he said.

Danish animal rights group Anima hailed the move as historic.

"Danish history is being written now that all supermarket chains stand together (against) a wholly unethical product," spokesman Thorbjoern Schioenning said in a statement.

Foie gras continues to be sold by a handful of independent retailers in the country.

Denmark's national debate on animal welfare was stoked last year by an episode of TV drama Borgen that questioned the treatment of pigs in one of the world's biggest exporters of pork.

Around the world, animal-rights activists have carried out a sustained campaign against foie gras -- literally "fatty liver" in French -- for decades.

Producers have come under fire for the controversial practice of gavage -- the force-feeding of animals by passing plastic tubes through their throats directly into their stomachs.

They have also been criticised for keeping the ducks and geese in cages where they have no space to move or even spread their wings.

The sale of the product has been banned in California, Britain's House of Lords has taken it off the menu and Internet retailer Amazon has banned it from its website.

But the delicacy -- a standard feature on French tables at Christmas and other festive occasions -- is fiercely defended by fans who argue that birds stuff themselves with food in the wild while undertaking long migratory voyages.

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