WASHINGTON – The US Supreme Court recently declined to hear a challenge of a lower court ruling upholding California's ban on foie gras production.

Foie gras has been a source of controversy because it is produced using gavage, or force-feeding, geese and ducks to create fatty livers. Animal welfare groups argue the practice is inhumane treatment.

In 2004, then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed the bill which banned the sale of foie gras in the state. The law didn’t go into force until 2012 so that farmers could find alternative production methods. The foie gras industry challenged the ban, and in 2015, a federal court judge overturned the ban. Then-California Attorney General Kamala Harris appealed the US District Court ruling.

On Jan. 6, the Supreme Court declined to hear the case, effectively killing the challenge. So, after about seven years of legal wrangling, the ban is in place. Any restaurant caught serving the dish faces a fine of up to $1,000.

The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) said the decision affirms that state governments have the right to set standards for humane treatment of animals.

“States are increasingly taking action to protect animals in food production,” HSUS said. “In the years since the foie gras sales ban, many more states, including California, have passed laws and ballot measures banning the cruel confinement of farm animals and the sale of those products, which have been upheld by the courts.”