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Brazil's Largest City Bans Foie Gras in Restaurants [Updated]

Foie is under fire in Sao Paulo.

Brenna Houck is a Cities Manager for the Eater network. She previously edited Eater Detroit and reported for Eater. You can follow her on the internet at @brennahouck.

City council members Brazil largest city, Sao Paulo, on Friday voted to ban restaurants from serving foie gras. The Associated Press reports council member Laercio Benko designed the new legislation and describes the French fatty liver delicacy as a "appetizer for the wealthy." Foie gras, Benko continues, "does not benefit human health and to make it, the birds are submitted to a lot of suffering.''

Restaurants will have 45 days to adapt to the new regulations, according to the BBC. Following the grace period, eateries caught serving the product will face a fine of 5,000 Brazilian reals (approximately $1,597). Guilherme Carvalho, a co-director of the Brazilian Vegetarian Society tells the UOL News Portal he welcomes the new legislation. "The next step will certainly be the expansion of the ban to the rest of Brazil." Animal rights organization PETA also hailed the new legislation as a victory against animal cruelty.

Not everyone is happy with the ban. Michelin-starred Brazilian chef Alex Atala of Sao Paulo’s D.O.M. restaurant tells the UOL that foie gras legislation would hurt tourism: "How can a city regulate what a person eats? Where will it all end?"

Foie gras has a controversial history worldwide. Countries such as Germany, Italy, and Argentina have banned its production. In the United States, foie has been at the center of a decade-long debate filled with legislation, lawsuits, and appeals.

Update, 07/18, 8:40 a.m.: A Sao Paulo judge temporarily suspended the city's foie gras ban Wednesday pending review. The decision follows strong objections for local restaurant owners, reports AFP.