New Yorkers hunt down last foie gras

26th February 2004, Comments 0 comments

NEW YORK, Feb 25 (AFP) - With feathers flying over fowl trade between the United States and France, afficionados of foie gras went on a desperate hunt in New York for their favourite delicacies to be banned under a new US directive.

NEW YORK, Feb 25 (AFP) - With feathers flying over fowl trade between the United States and France, afficionados of foie gras went on a desperate hunt in New York for their favourite delicacies to be banned under a new US directive.

"They did ban foie gras? It's ridiculous," said Kathy Witherell, a New York decorator shopping at the Dean and Deluca gourmet shop in Manhattan's Soho district, a day after US authorities banned French meat imports.

"If I don't have any other option, I'll buy some American foie gras, but I'll try to find some French (foie gras) elsewhere," said another customer, Herman Armorici. "I'm sure you can get it online, don't you think?"

The United States suspended imports of French meat and poultry products on Tuesday, citing questions about health and safety at French processing facilities. The ban covers French beef, chicken, pork and duck-based products.

Among the hgih-value products being banned are certain French sausages and foie gras, a delicacy made from duck or goose liver.

"If you want to sell products in the US, they have to be as safe as products that are produced here in order to protect public health," US Agriculture Department spokesman Steven Cohen said.

The USDA said no link existed with the European Union's suspension of live poultry and egg imports from the United States, after a case of the highly contagious avian flu emerged in Texas.

But the two events highlighted a long-running feud over food between the two countries that has included disputes over beef treated with hormones, genetically modified crops and other products, as well as a series of other trade spats involving Washington and the European Union.

Claude Barfield of the American Enterprise Institute said these incidents highlight "ongoing tensions" between the trading partners but noted that food safety "is a plausible case" for the measures.

Barfield said the economic impact will be minimal but that "both sides have got a lot of things going" and will need to use diplomacy so as "not to have things explode."

The US ban affects some 450,000 kilos (976,000 pounds) of French meats, based on last year's import levels.

The EU ban affects 13,000 tonnes of eggs imported annually, representing 25 percent of such imports with a value of EUR 20 million (USD 25 million).

The EU also imports some 800,000 chicks every year, with a value of EUR 2.5 million (USD 3.1 million), of which 450,000 come from the United States.

The two latest issues are relatively small potatoes in terms of trade volume, but the emotional impact is significant, especially at places like Dean and Deluca, where customers may come up empty when looking for French foie gras or the Rosette de Lyon sausage, which is also banned.

"Our sales will definitely be affected," said Dean and Deluca specialist Joseph Camarala. "Between a French foie gras and an American foie gras, people always pick up the French one. I won't have any goose foie gras anymore. I don't know any producer here. I don't know what I'm going to do."

© AFP

                                                              Subject: France news

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