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Foie gras production using force-feeding of ducks and geese is banned in the UK and several other European countries, but still widespread in France

The Labour Party will ban imports of French delicacy foie gras if elected, it has promised.

The controversial food is produced in neighbouring France via a force-feeding process that has been banned in the UK for over a decade on animal welfare grounds.

However, around 200 tonnes of foie gras are still imported from the continent into Britain every year.

Shadow Defra minister Steve Reed has now promised to ban the import of any foods produced through “aggressive” force-feeding practices if his party wins the July 4 general election.

The production of the French culinary staple involves the force-feeding of ducks and geese until their livers fatten and reach up to 10 times their natural size.

The birds used in these practices have been reported to suffer from breathing difficulties, eye infections, and broken wings or beaks.

Some were “covered in blood, or left dead and rotting”, according to animal rights group Animal Equality UK.

Foie gras imports were due to be banned last year under the Animals Abroad Bill with the support of several Conservative members. But plans were shelved over reported pressure from the right of the party.

This prompted anger from animal right activists and celebrities, who called on prime minister Rishi Sunak to ban the foie gras trade.

“The Conservatives are on the side of that kind of cruelty to animals,” Reed said in a video posted to his social media on Tuesday.

“Labour will ban the import of foie gras that is made following these abhorrent, cruel practices.

“A vote for Labour is a vote for animals,” he added.

A YouGov poll commissioned by Animal Equality UK last October also showed that nine out of 10 Brits supported a ban on foie gras made by force-feeding.

The animal welfare group, which has been leading the charge on calls for a ban on imports with a running campaign since 2017, welcomed Reed’s announcement.

“Foie gras production is undeniably brutal, yet for decades the UK has effectively been outsourcing cruelty – this hypocrisy must stop,” said executive director Abigail Penny.

“This is evidently a key voter issue, with an overwhelming majority of Brits in favour of a foie gras import ban, so I am delighted to see the Labour Party take a decisive position on this issue.”

Penny said she expected “all other parties in the running to make similarly firm commitments to ban cruel foie gras imports – they must if they are to truly respect the wishes of their constituents across the UK”.

“Foie gras has no place on the plates of the British public.”