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SAN ANTONIO - H.E. Butt Grocery Co. here is apparently becoming the latest target of animal rights group PETA, which said Friday that it had mobilized some of its more than 1.6 million members and supporters to pressure the regional grocer to stop selling foie gras.
PETA said its pleas to HEB to drop the product have been ignored. The animal rights group said it objects to foie gras because it "is made by violently force-feeding ducks and geese."
PETA said it calls for action in alerts via e-mail, on social networking Web sites like MySpace.com, and on its own Web site, www.PETA.org.
A similar action alert posted in February that targeted Pittsburgh-based grocer Giant Eagle generated more than 230,000 e-mails aimed at the grocer in less than one week, according to PETA.
Giant Eagle ended up pulling foie gras from its shelves, but the retailer claimed that PETA pressure was not the reason why. In local press reports, Giant Eagle said it decided against selling foie gras in its Market District stores because of concerns about seasonal availability, shelf space, and sales trends, and not because of the animal rights groups' objections.
PETA says that foie gras producers force-feeding ducks and geese until they contract the disease hepatic steatosis, which makes their livers painfully engorged.
"People don't want to eat the diseased liver of a tortured bird," said PETA v.p. Bruce Friedrich in a statement. "HEB can protect ducks and geese from one of the cruelest factory-farming abuses simply by taking foie gras off its shelves."
A call to HEB seeking comment was not returned by press time.
Foie gras has been banned in 15 nations, including the United Kingdom, Germany, Israel, and Switzerland, as well as in the state of California and the city of Chicago, according to PETA. Some grocery retailers, including Whole Foods, do not sell foie gras.