(US-nj) Foie gras supplier worries business could fold with proposed ban
- NEWARK, N.J. -- Some of the choicest delicacies found in American
restaurants sit amid 40,000 square feet of refrigerated space near
Crates of wild mushrooms _ shiitake, morel and porcini _ will leave
the warehouse of D'Artagnan, a supplier and distributor of high-end
food products, to end up in many of the country's top kitchens and
The company's vast warehouse, kept at 32 degrees, stores quail from
Griggstown, N.J.; free-range organic chicken from Mennonite farmers in
Bucks County, Penn.; and Berkshire pork from the Ozark mountains.
Other shelves are stacked with packages of duck confit, truffle butter
and terrines of foie gras, a controversial fowl liver product that
accounted for 30 percent of D'Artagnan's annual $45 million in sales
"My job is to feed people the best products possible," said Ariane
Daguin, the company's co-founder and chief executive officer, in her
thick, French accent.
Her customers are a "who's who" of the high-end food industry. "She
has given the U.S. gourmet foods market equal doses of education and
pleasure when it comes to fine foods," said chef Daniel Boulud in an
D'Artagnan, founded in 1985, was poised to continue growing _ sales
were up 12 percent from the last year _ and Daguin had predicted a 15
percent stride in sales this year. But the business is now threatened
with a proposed state bill, to be introduced this week, that would
prohibit the sale and distribution in the state of foie gras, the
fattened fowl livers.
The bill could be the worst news for D'Artagnan since a listeria scare
in 1999 forced a voluntary recall of thousands of pounds of pate-like
mousse. The company rebounded and has grown with retail sales. But
Daguin worries the squawking over foie gras could put her and 120
employees out of business.
"This is totally devastating news," said Daguin, 46, who is the
seventh generation in her family to work in the food restaurant
business. Her father, Andre, retired as chef of a Michelin two-star
restaurant. She learned about foie gras as a toddler.
French for "fat liver," foie gras is a pate-like spread made by
force-feeding geese and ducks to expand their livers up to 10 times
their normal size.
A New Jersey law proposed last month would "prohibit the force feeding
of ducks, geese and other poultry for the production of foie gras."
Assemblyman Michael Panter, D-Monmouth, plans to introduce a second
bill this week to ban the distribution and sale of foie gras, since it
is not produced in New Jersey.
"I'm not naive to the effects it will have on business," said Panter,
a vegetarian. "I think that the practices in place to produce foie
gras are inhumane by any standard."
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