As the year-end festivities approach, the foie gras and force-feeding debate is re-launched. But two researchers in Toulouse have found a solution to producing fatty liver without force feeding the animals.
Is there a real alternative to stopping force-feeding geese or ducks? This is what inspired this experiment, which was conducted by Toulouse researchers on a farm in Arij, near Bailhes. Remy Porcellin, director of research at Inserm and Gerard Campestron, professor of human physiology and nutrition, developed a method to try to produce fatty livers naturally within their company, Aviwell. We’ve been working on obesity and diabetes in humans. As for obesity, it was found that this did not come from parents with the same disease, but from the intestinal bacteria that control fat storage in the liver, explains Remy Porcellin.
So this hypothesis has become a reality, but only in humans for now. “We told ourselves that this possibility was probably possible for geese and ducks,” continues Gérard Campestron. The researchers were right. In fact, in 2013, they created an experimental farm to develop a technology for producing goose liver without force-feeding. “We feed the young geese with a bottle of natural intestinal fermentation. They are in direct contact with the bacteria of the geese that had a fatty liver. The process is very long. It lasts six or even seven months.”, Girard confirms. Undoubtedly, since the launch of the project seven years ago Over the years, young cows have produced fatter livers than their ancestors…without force-feeding.” We are now about 70% fat. We are not yet at the end of our surprises, as they will be even more impressive in a few years. In the future, one can even imagine modifying the color, taste and texture of the liver according to the bacteria,” emphasizes the professor.
Geese migrate like quail, ducks and wood pigeons. “They need calories,” Girard notes. This is why they eat a lot in the summer. But they do move in the fall, which is a good time when the liver is very fatty. In addition to it being in a natural process, there are immigration conditions even if I stay here from now on because we can’t let them go. However, they have that sense of travel. Finally, when the time is right, they are butchered. Every year, in order to continue the experiment, researchers breed very few geese. In 2021, there were nearly sixty. “Either way, that’s not the point. There really is a question of well-being by not having force-feeding. They eat only what they need. We give them organic corn,” analyzes the scientist.
What about marketing?
Going forward, the researchers believe the study has reached a stage of maturity. However, the product is not marketed. “It is not something we know how to do. We will learn or outsource, in particular, marketing. There is a market that is in the US or the UAE.”
Problem, investors provided assistance for study and not for breeding and marketing. “Today, we are looking for synergies to finish this business. Because the goal is to offer foie gras without force-feeding. As we see a lot of hesitation, I think eventually consumers will turn more towards this type of product”, concludes Gerrard.
Only the future will tell…