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Thursday, May 28, 2009

Announcement of Costco Foie Gras Ban Mired in Confusion

Posted By on Thu, May 28, 2009 at 3:12 PM

click to enlarge Ever seen this at Costco? - FRANCISCOMAG VIA FLICKR
  • franciscomag via Flickr
  • Ever seen this at Costco?
Is an animal rights group pulling a hoax centered around a high-profile foie gras ban? Earlier today, Eater SF picked up a press release stating that warehouse retailer Costco had pledged to ban sales of foie gras, the controversial luxury liver produced by gorging certain poultry fowl. Sounds like Costco took a bold step, one that puts it in line with a California state ban that takes effect in 2012. Problem is, a Costco vice president told SFoodie he knew nothing about the ban. What's more, he's pretty sure the Washington-based retailer doesn't even sell the gourmet food item in the first place.

"I'm not aware of any ban," Jeff Elliott said, after asking SFoodie to explain what foie gras is. "I'm not even aware that we sell that." In a subsequent email, Elliott wrote: "We have no comment on the matter."

Brian Pease, who described himself as a director of San Diego-based Animal Protection & Rescue League, which produced the press release (which doesn't include a quote from any Costco representative), claimed that everything in the press release was true, but described the situation with Costco as "complicated." Pease conceded that the APRL may have been premature in circulating the press release. He said that the organization's contact was one Mike Dorpat, whom Pease described as Costco's wine and foods buyer. Pease acknowledged a certain amount of miscommunication in APRL, which is staffed primarily with volunteers.

Pease said he wasn't sure whether or not Costco "wanted to go on record" about the Costco ban. He said someone at the APRL was investigating.

A search for foie on Costco.com didn't turn up results, but it's not clear if that reflects the announced ban. Meanwhile, calls to individual Costco stores didn't turn up any foie gras. A manager at the store on 10th Street in San Francisco said inventory records showed that the last time the store stocked the luxury liver was in early 2008. The store in San Leandro never stocked it, nor did the Los Feliz store in Los Angeles.

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