A chain of convenience stores in Japan has scrapped plans to sell foie gras after customers complained about alleged animal cruelty in the way the traditional French delicacy is produced.
FamilyMart, a chain of about 10,000 stores across Japan, had planned to launch a new “premium” bento box product featuring a cut of marbled “wagyu” Japanese beef and a slice of foie gras, to be sold at a price of $6.73.
But the company decided to pull the product after receiving 22 complaints from customers.
“We understand foie gras is a common food stuff in Japan,” a FamilyMart spokesman said. However, the launch was cancelled after “carefully considering opinions from customers, different views abroad on foie gras and the production process of foie gras itself”.
He added: “We don’t intend to make anyone feel uncomfortable.”
Animal rights campaigners object to foie gras because it involves the forced feeding of birds to engorge their liver, a process activists say is painful for the creatures.
In 2012 the US state of California made both producing and selling foie gras illegal, a move that did not go down well in France, by far the world’s largest producer of traditional foie gras.
“Foie gras is an important part of the French gastronomic heritage and it has been recognised as such by UNESCO. There is no reason France should accept this state of affairs,” a French diplomat told Reuters at the time.
The same year a group of European MPs, including one from France’s Green Party, called for a similar ban to be implemented across the EU.
Japan may seem like an unlikely place for consumer squeamishness over animal products because the country has often come under criticism for its animal rights record, including its hunting of whales, whose meat is available in many restaurants and supermarkets.
An annual dolphin hunt at Taiji, western Japan, has also caused international furore. The hunt sees hundreds of the mammals herded into a cove before being slaughtered for their meat or captured alive to be sold to aquariums.