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Organic Consumers Association Sues D’Artagnan for False Animal Welfare Claims

Largest U.S. distributor of foie gras products misleads consumers about the treatment of ducks used to make its products 

CONTACT:
Katherine Paul, (207) 653-3090, katherine@organicconsumers.org

WASHINGTON, D.C. - August 19, 2020  - Organic Consumers Association (OCA) sued  D’Artagnan, the largest distributor of foie gras in the U.S., for deceptive marketing and advertising of foie gras, sold under the D’Artagnan brand.

The action was filed by Richman Law Group on behalf of OCA, in D.C. Superior Court under the D.C. Consumer Protection Procedures Act.

“Increasingly, consumers are aligning their food purchases with their personal values,” said Ronnie Cummins, OCA’s international director. “That’s especially true when it comes to the humane treatment of animals. 

“Surveys consistently show that consumers place a high value on animal welfare and are willing to pay more for brands that adhere to high animal welfare standards,” Cummins said. “Consumers must be protected from false and misleading advertising and marketing claims, and corporations like D’Artagnan must be held accountable for the claims they make.”

According to a 2013 survey conducted by the American Humane Association, 89 percent of consumers were very concerned about farm animal welfare, and 74 percent stated that they were willing to pay more for humanely raised meat products.

OCA alleges that D’Artagnan falsely claims that the ducks used in its products are “free-range,”  “never caged,” have “space to roam, “eat a “natural diet” and are fed through “hand-feeding.” 

The lawsuit cites investigations into D’Artagnan’s practices revealing that contrary to the company’s claims, the ducks are force-fed using methods that result in bruising, bleeding, lesions, pain, stress and suffering. In some cases, the ducks develop brittle and broken bones, thermoregulatory disorders, respiratory disorders, liver disease, lameness and difficulty walking.

Inspections of D’Artagnan supplier, Hudson Valley Foie Gras, confirm instances of inhumane treatment, including a report by one veterinarian that multiple ducks had “died of aspiration pneumonia, a painful condition resulting from food being pushed into the birds’ lungs during the force-feeding process.”

Investigations also reveal that the ducks are crowded into massive warehouse-like facilities with no access to the outdoors.

Full complaint

Organic Consumers Association (OCA) is a grassroots nonprofit consumer advocacy organization representing a network of more than 2 million consumers in the U.S. and Mexico.

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