Chrissie Hynde isn’t pulling any punches in her assault on one of Kitchen Nightmares star Gordon Ramsay’s favorite kitchen nightmares: foie gras. The Pretenders’ lead singer recently fired off a letter on behalf of PETA U.K. to the British department store Fortnum & Mason demanding that it stop selling the fatty goose liver, the production of which is so cruel that it is illegal in England, even though, paradoxically, it is not illegal to sell the product there.
“Heaven knows I am not averse to sampling the finer things in life,” Hynde wrote, “but I know that there is nothing fine about this product, which is made from the diseased livers of force-fed geese.”
Hynde’s action comes just days after PETA U.S. released the findings of its investigation into Hudson Valley Foie Gras, which supplies the Gordon Ramsay–licensed restaurant at The London NYC hotel. PETA’s investigator documented that prior to the force-feeding period, young ducks at Hudson Valley are crammed by the thousands into huge warehouse-like sheds without any access to water for swimming, despite the fact that ducks are waterfowl.
Ducks start the foie gras feeding process when they are just 9 to 12 weeks old, at which point up to a dozen birds at a time are crammed into pens measuring just 4 feet by 6 feet. PETA U.S.’ investigator saw workers drag ducks by their necks along the floor before ramming metal tubes down their throats and pumping food into their stomachs.
After several weeks of force-feeding, birds’ livers become diseased and swell to up to 10 times their normal size. By Hudson Valley’s own admission, approximately 15,000 ducks on the farm die every year before they can be slaughtered—that’s an average of 41 birds a day. Common causes of death on foie gras farms include ruptured organs, throat injuries, liver failure, and aspiration pneumonia, which occurs when birds choke on their own vomit. Ducks are slaughtered on site at Hudson Valley, where PETA’s investigator documented that at least one bird still moved after his throat had been cut.
The workers themselves may not have it so great either, according to Kerry Kennedy, who has accused Hudson Valley of forcing employees to work for years without any vacation time, among other abuses.
In an op-ed that Hynde wrote recently for The Huffington Post, she blasts “foodies” who support “[a]ll this misery” just so that they “can toss a slab of greasy toxin-infused offal onto their toast.” Instead, she prefers the “faux gras” created by London chef Sean Paul Redding, which she describes as “a magical concoction that includes truffle oil, wild mushrooms, chickpeas and beetroot – but not so much as an ounce of animal abuse.”