LOS ANGELES – A federal court recently heard oral arguments in the case of an animal welfare group’s lawsuit against the US Dept. of Agriculture. The Animal Legal Defense Fund is suing USDA for allowing foie gras to be sold in the US food supply.

Foie gras has been a source of controversy because it is produced by force-feeding geese and ducks to create fatty livers. Animal welfare groups argue the practice is inhumane treatment. In 2004, the California legislature passed a ban on sales of foie gras that didn’t take effect until 2012. The foie gras industry challenged the ban, and in 2015, a federal court judge overturned the ban.

The ALDF lawsuit stems from a petition to the USDA for rulemaking that would keep foie gras out of the food supply which the ALDF says is required under the federal Poultry Products Inspection Act. USDA rejected the petition.

“Foie gras is not only the product of animal torture, but of intentionally-induced liver disease,” Stephen Wells, executive director of ALDF, said in a news release. “Given the potentially serious consequences of eating this diseased organ, the government should be safeguarding the consuming public from it, not fighting to keep it in our food supply.”

The hearing was held Aug. 15 at the United States Courthouse for the Central District of California.