AN ANIMAL charity is calling on organisers of the York Food Festival this summer not to have foie gras on the menu.

Viva says the festival in June - just before the Tour De France Grand Depart in Yorkshire - will have a French theme but it should still respect York’s 'foie gras free status.'

Campaign manager Justin Kerswell said it was writing to the organisers to ask it to 'make it policy that participants in the festival do not cook or sell the controversial dish.'

He said: "Viva! will also be writing to the local council asking that they enforce the existing ban on selling the famously cruel foodstuff on council owned and operated premises and locations."

He said the production of foie gras was illegal in Britain because it would break existing welfare guidelines but, because of a loophole in trade laws, it was legal to import and sell it in this country.

"In 2007, York made history by becoming the first council in Britain to ban the sale of foie gras at council properties. Viva! is asking the council to stand by this decision and remind the organisers of York Food Festival that foie gras is not welcome in the city."

He said foie gras was typically produced by force feeding ducks or geese such large amounts of food that their livers swelled to up to ten times normal size. "A pipe is shoved down the bird’s oesophagus and food is pumped into the stomach," he said.

“York made cruelty history back in 2007, so it would be a real shame to see foie gras creeping back via the York Food Festival."

He stressed that the move was not anti-French, and Viva! worked closely with groups in France to expose foie gras cruelty.

Festival director Michael Hjort said he did not believe anyone was planning to sell foie gras during the event, and he was aware that the council policy meant it could not be sold on council-owned property.

However, it was not in his powers to tell anyone they could not do something in their hotel, restaurant or private property if it was within the law.