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Jun 19, 2007 04:55 PM

LA Times - A reason to duck the foie gras

They talk about the health demerits of eating foie. They fed lab mice a bunch of the bad stuff (fibrils) from foie and found that it led to, surprise, a buildup of fibrils in the mice' internal organs.

Personally, I think it's rendered moot considering that California is about to ban it outright in 2008 (and is already banned at Spago) and also, it doesn't talk about the proportion of fibril ingestion to body mass. Foie is prohibitively expensive to eat in large quantities, so I wonder if the research found any effect on the amount given relative to a mouse's size.

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  1. I volunteer for the test for impact on humans. I mean, in the inerest of science and all.

    3 Replies
      1. re: evilcatfish

        Third in line...does that include a trip to France?

        1. re: justagthing

          Fourth! Can I fourth? does that exist?

    1. I haven't been able to dig up the original article (contrary to the LAT article, it's not in this week's PNAS) but I have read interviews with the lead investigator. He says that the mice were genetically modified to be susceptible to amyloidosis and was quoted as saying "eating foie gras probably won't cause a disease in someone who isn't genetically predisposed to it". The mice were not fed foie gras but fibrils extracted from foie gras.

      I'm going to keep on eating it.

      1 Reply
      1. re: PorkButt

        i will run to whatever lab wants to do a clinical trial on foie gras... i will do it for free or consider bribes. It is interesting how the media extrapolates the journal articles.

      2. The original comment has been removed
        1. This study means...nothing.

          Fibrils are little strands of misfolded proteins that can, but don't always, cause amyloids. The fibrils from foie gras produced amyloids "in mice prone to develop AA amyloidosis." Read the study, conducted by The University of Tennessee, on its website at

          That's analogous to saying that butter causes arterial plaque in someone who has a propensity to developing heart disease. Rather ridiculous.

          The actual study also said, conveniently left out by the LA Times writer, that "Eating foie gras probably won't cause a disease in someone who isn't [already] genetically predisposed to [that disease]."

          3 Replies
          1. re: maria lorraine

            Well put...we can cause pretty much any disease in a mouse as well as cure most cancers. I dislike the media interpretations of animal studies that do not explain the dose equivalents and the animal model. It would be too boring.
            The ban would be quite sad. At my favorite restaurant I have to ask the chef if foie gras is available. He often will not list it on the menu given the backlash.
            I enjoyed Rick Steves description of the French paradox and foie gras in his France guidebook.

            1. re: maria lorraine

              The PNAS article is now up.

              Don't have the time to read through it yet, but if I'm bored I might try to extrapolate how much foie gras over what period of time that a human is engineered to be highly prone to amyloidosis would have to eat to reproduce this study.

              1. re: PorkButt

                this will be fun reading..i just downloaded the article. we know the dose but not relative percentage of

            2. I don't think any one has ever seriously touted foie gras as a health food. It has an 85 percent fat content.