31/10/2012 13:18 GMT | Updated 31/12/2012 05:12 GMT

Sixty-Three per cent of the British Public Wants Foie Gras banned

It's shocking that despite the wealth of evidence that foie gras causes unacceptable suffering to ducks and geese, Fortnum & Mason is still refusing to stop selling this offensive product.

Before being killed these birds spend the last weeks of their lives in small barren pens. They spend 24 hours a day on metal grating, and their urine and faeces fall through and are never cleaned up. Investigators from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) recently filmed on some of the supposedly highest welfare foie gras farms in France. They documented panicked geese struggling as they were grasped by the neck before being force-fed huge amounts of grain. The birds' distended livers swell to up to 10 times their normal size, pressing against their lungs.

Fortnum & Mason's executive director, Ewan Venters, has attempted to deny that PETA's footage was taken at farms that supply Fortnum & Mason, despite PETA's clear evidence to the contrary. But this is not even the point. The footage is not unique - it is the norm in foie gras production. The science is irrefutable; force feeding quickly results in a pathological state called hepatic lipidosis, or fatty liver disease. It is unethical to deliberately promote such a diseased state purely to provide an unnecessary "delicacy" for human consumption. As a result of their enormous livers pressing against their lungs, birds in that last two weeks of gavage show respiratory distress with shallow, laboured breathing. The process contravenes the European Convention for the Protection of Animals Kept for Farming Purposes and The Welfare of Farmed Animals (England) Regulations 2007, which states that animals "must be provided with food and liquid in a manner that does not cause them unnecessary suffering or injury". A detailed report from the EU scientific committee also found what common sense tells us: that not only is force-feeding detrimental to welfare, the housing and husbandry of these birds in this period also has a hugely negative impact on their welfare.

In Britain, we pride ourselves on being a nation of animal lovers. In fact, according to an Ipsos MORI poll, two-thirds of us would like to see a complete ban on the sale of foie gras in the UK. It is disgraceful for an iconic British institution to continue to profit from this indefensible product. I would urge people to boycott such stores and use consumer power to send the message that we will not tolerate in any way such poor welfare standards.