California chefs are facing death threats after a federal judge overturned a law stating that foie gras must be banned from menus in California restaurants. Foie gras is a dish prepared with duck’s liver, and the fatty delicacy is often made even fattier by force-feeding ducks via metal tubes so their livers enlarge.

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In 2012, California became the first state to ban the production and sale of the fatty livers, ruling that that the force feeding is inhumane. A coalition of chefs and producers fought the law, and a federal judge eventually ruled that federal law trumps the decision of the state in this case. This gives the U.S. Department of Agriculture the sole responsibility for regulating poultry products.

Now, outraged animal activists are threatening the chefs and producers. Ken Frank, who owns the restaurant La Toque in Napa Valley, told The Huffington Post: “There are some describing the way they’re hoping I will die. A good share of them talk about shoving a pipe up my ass or down my throat. But it’s the ones who would like to see me hung by my feet and bled to death with no anesthetic—those are the most disturbing.”

In a statement announcing a demonstration in San Francisco, PETA President Ingrid E. Newkirk said: “The main ingredient in every bite of foie gras is cruelty to animals, and PETA is calling on kind people everywhere to stay away from any restaurant that insists on serving this vile dish.”

Proponents of foie gras say that the dish can be made humanely. Chef Frank insists that he toured a foie gras farm and that the ducks there are treated well, and submit to the feeding process willingly. He said that ducks have a “pouch in their neck that stores food once they are fed and before it’s absorbed into the gizzard.” He asserts that these ducks can eat a whole fish in one bite and just because something looks like something a human couldn’t do, doesn’t mean it isn’t right for an animal.

Despite the violent nature of the threats, Frank and other chefs say that they are sleeping fine. “I sleep OK; I’m not too worried,” Frank said. “People that write threats like that don’t have the guts to say it to my face.”

Via The Huffington Post

Photos by Flickr/jh_tan and Charles Haynes