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Cruelty claim puts paté off Ilkley menu
Buy this photo » Rena Gueller, who has taken the dish off the menu at the Box tree
THE famous Box Tree restaurant in Ilkley has decided to dump the delicacy pate de foie gras because of threats from animal rights protesters.
The local group threatened to demonstrate against the Michelin-starred restaurant on Church Street unless pate de foie gras was taken off the menu.
A group spokesman made the threat as the group targeted the Ramus fish shop in South Hawkesworth Street with a demonstration against the world famous pate, which is traditionally made from goose liver, pork fat, onions, mushrooms, and often includes truffles.
On intensive farms, foie gras is produced by force feeding geese and ducks by putting metal tubes down their throats to make them gain weight more quickly.
It is made from the liver of the ducks and geese which grow much larger than normal because of the over feeding. Protesters believe that this is tantamount to torturing the animals.
Protester Mike Harrington said Ramus and the Box Tree were the only two businesses in the town which still sold foie gras, which they believe is produced by cruel intensive farming methods.
Mr Harrington said: "There is a lot of cruelty involved in the industry and it is illegal to produce it in the UK."
Fellow protester Andy Ford said: "What reputable business in the UK would sell something that is illegal to produce in the UK." Asked what the customers thought, Mr Harrington said: "We have spoken to a few and a couple have turned away. The public have been quite supportive as well."
The ten-strong Animal Rights Ilkley group said that they had checked local shops and restaurants to make sure they did not sell foie gras before embarking on their protest.
He said that the group had contacted the Box Tree restaurant and the manager had promised to discuss the subject with chef Simon Gueller.
The group said it would organise similar protests at the Box Tree if foie gras stayed on the menu.
Restaurant owner Rena Guellar said: "We have taken it off the menu because we don't want any aggravation. It is a shame because a lot of people enjoy it and would like to have it at the end of the day.
"We accept that some of these farms treat their animals badly but we don't source any of our products from any place like that."
Mrs Gueller said it would reflect in the quality of the product if cruelty was involved in the production. She said it was up to the Government to intervene if any food product was not thought to be produced in an acceptable way.
She said she disagreed with tactics used by animal rights groups and suggested that they should target the Government not individual shops and restaurants for their protest.
Mr Harrington said protests at Ramus would continue until the group got what it wanted. "We will just carry on protesting and calling for a boycott. About 200 business in the UK have already taken it off in the past year," he said.
Mr Ford said that Prince Charles had spoken out against the production of the pate and had it taken off the menu in the Royal household.
Jonathan Batchelor, the managing director of Ramus, said that while he respected the point of view of the protesters and their right to protest, he would not be giving in to their demands.
"I am not the sort of person who will be told what to do by other people," said Mr Batchelor.
He added: "It is a big campaign and I know of other businesses that have been targeted so it is not a huge surprise to see them turn up on my doorstep."
He said that the amount of foie gras sold by the shop was only small and he did not think other customers would be put off by the protesters.
l Our comment: Page 8.