Fortnum & Mason Is Unfit to Hold Royal Warrants

Posted by on October 29, 2012 | Permalink

PETA has been campaigning hard recently asking Fortnum & Mason to join shops like Selfridges and Harvey Nichols by ending its support of the barbaric foie gras trade.

Despite a shocking undercover investigation of several farms represented by the Sarlat Perigord cooperative, from which Fortnum & Mason’s distributor sources foie gras, that revealed the horrific suffering of birds, Fortnum & Mason continues to sell the vile product.

As a store which trades on its English heritage, Fortnum & Mason should not be supporting a product so cruel that its production is illegal in the UK. With Prince Charles refusing to serve foie gras because of its cruel production, we have contacted the Right Honourable Earl Peel to suggest that Fortnum & Mason is unfit to be a Royal Warrant holder.

The full letter is below.

Complaint Regarding Royal Warrant Holders Fortnum & Mason Plc

Dear Lord Peel,

I am writing to you on behalf of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) UK – an affiliate of PETA US, which is the largest animal rights group in the world and has more than 3 million members and supporters worldwide – concerning the conduct of the department store Fortnum & Mason Plc, which holds two Royal Warrants.

Our complaint centres on Fortnum & Mason’s sale of goose foie gras. As you may know, the production of foie gras involves force-feeding geese in order to create a diseased and distended liver. The methods used to produce foie gras are illegal in the UK under The Welfare of Farmed Animals (England) Regulations 2007. The production of foie gras is also banned in the EU under Article 3 of the European Convention for the Protection of Animals Kept for Farming Purposes. However, France opted out of this convention where the production of foie gras is concerned.

Prince Charles has stop serving foie gras at functions that he hosts, and many other high-profile retailers, including Selfridges, have stopped selling foie gras. Yesterday, PETA – along with the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA), Compassion in World Farming, and other high-profile animal welfare groups that together represent millions of compassionate British citizens – wrote to Fortnum & Mason disputing outrageous claims the store has made in the media stating that “less than 1% of the public are opposed to the sale of foie gras”. In fact, according to an Ipos MORI survey commissioned by the RSPCA, 63 per cent of Britons wish to see a ban on the sale of foie gras. I have enclosed a copy of the letter.

Matters are compounded by the way in which Fortnum & Mason promotes its foie gras to consumers. Westminster Trading Standards have already intervened in December 2011 to make Fortnum & Mason reword its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) policy in order to avoid misleading consumers about the standards of animal welfare used in the production of its foie gras. A further complaint has been made to Trading Standards about a promotional video issued by Fortnum & Mason about its own-label foie gras product and the CSR, both of which maintained that the highest standards of animal welfare were observed in the production of Fortnum & Mason’s foie gras, without mentioning that production had been banned in the UK and most of the EU on animal welfare grounds.

Fortnum & Mason make their Englishness look like a great virtue. To this end, they trade on the Royal Warrants awarded to them. Their CSR talks of the store’s high ethics and morals, particularly with regard to food production techniques and animal welfare. It states, “Across everything Fortnum & Mason is and does runs its English character”. A copy of the CSR is enclosed.

Fortnum & Mason use the Royal Warrants to promote their Englishness, with the values that it represents, yet the production of foie gras is illegal under English law.

We respectfully suggest that it is totally inappropriate for a Royal Warrant holder to sell a product whose production is banned in this country on cruelty-to-animals grounds and promote the product within a framework that claims the highest animal welfare standards yet fails to mention the UK ban on its production.

PETA UK recently carried out an investigation into the French cooperative which supplies foie gras to Fortnum & Mason. Video footage has been obtained from a Fortnum & Mason supplier farm in France and at the abattoir used by that farm. This evidence flatly contradicts the contents of Fortnum & Masons’ CSR and its promotional video. The footage shows the following:

  • A farmer uses his dog to tease and torment one of the geese.
  • A goose had an injured and bleeding foot, and when the farmer’s attention was drawn to this fact, he belittled and ignored the injury.
  • The geese panted and struggled to breathe as their distended livers pressed against their lungs.
  • Some geese were slaughtered by having their throats cut without being stunned first (this is contrary French animal welfare laws).

You can view some of this footage on the DVD prepared by PETA and narrated by Sir Roger Moore, which is enclosed. All of the footage was filmed at farms represented by the cooperative which Fortnum & Mason’s distributor sources from.

This issue has raised a considerable amount of media interest – some of which I have also enclosed.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely, Mimi Bekhechi
Associate Director
PETA Foundation