December is when I dive into London and hit all my favourite stores for a days worth of Christmas shopping. I love this mini-shopping spree day, as this is the only opportunity I get to do any real Christmas shopping. I get such a kick out of visiting these old buildings full of real British charm, decorated head to toe in the finest Christmas decorations. I somehow feel like Wendy out of Peter Pan – It is a simply magical experience and one everyone needs to try. I’m not a massive fan of shopping normally and hate on line shopping, as there’s rarely any personality and good customer service behind your purchase. This is why I love to visit stores such as Harrods, Selfridges and Fortum and Mason.
As a previous employee at Harrods- I’ve had the full customer service training which each and every staff member receives regardless of which department they are destined for. The staff just make my shopping trip, as normally nothing is too much trouble, and the customer is always looked after to a high standard. This is something I’ve passed onto all of my staff and hope this is what sets us apart from all of our in store and on line competition. I suppose the irony for this blog post was that I worked as an elf at Harrods one year and that is also why I especially love London at Christmas – because it brings back such fond memories.
However this year my shopping trip was destroyed by a trip into Fortum and Mason’s. On what can only be described as a real life version of “Super Market Sweep”, my husband and I did the rounds filling our baskets with luxury products for our friends and family. Fine teas, wines, mince pies, the list goes on and on. Whilst visiting the food court downstairs I discovered a tin for sale containing Foie Gras. I instantly felt sick. It brought back a terrible memory of a video I once watched in the production of this vile cruel product. My day was instantly ruined. The whole day I kept thinking back to that tin and what those birds must have gone through to make that product.
This link below, narrated by Sir Roger Moore sums up the cruelty. I urge everyone to watch it even though it is distressing. There should be great importance placed on knowing where and how your food is produced.
I have now decided to start a campaign in the hope to totally remove from sale this product from all UK stores starting with Fortum and Mason. In my research into this product I have found disappointingly that Harrods will be my next point of call for a letter. This hurts more than discovering that F&M stock this product as I have previously worked for this company. On a more positive note, Selfridges of London have been leading by example, removing from sale this barbaric item since 2009. I even discovered in my research that they sacked a well-loved butcher who took it upon himself to sell the product under the counter in their main London store like contraband.
My hat is raised to Selfridges and I hope that Harrods and F&M can see that in 2017 that there is no place for the sale of this horrendous product.
My letter below will be sent tomorrow to F&M and I shall also write to Harrods. I shall be updating my blog with the outcome. Wish me and my one-woman quest the best of luck!
Dear Fortnum and Mason,
I just want to start by thanking you for giving us “Fortum and Mason.” What an incredible store, full of great British enchantment and nostalgia. Renowned as a true piece of British iconic culture, defining British high end retail at its very best, and for this reason one of my first stops whenever visiting London.
You have for years romanticised us mere mortals with you bohemian take on lifestyle, home, food and drink. Creating such magic as marmalade bucks fizz with edible glitter and giving us products such as olive wood and sterling silver honey drizzliers. Whoever would have thought we would have required such decadence in our lives.
It has always been a pleasure to spend money in your establishment, as I adore your quirkiness and sense of style. The very giving of gifts from F&M enables the public to reap huge amounts of selfish gratification and reward; after all who wouldn’t want to receive pure indulgence in gift form?
Until my last visit your store in my eyes was held in such high regard; that was however until I realised you stocked foie gras.
For me as a customer you’ve destroyed the very personification of your store. I can’t believe such a wonderful British institution could have fallen to such an all time low. I would love to know which ill educated buyer from your store ever thought that putting foie gras for sale in your store was a good idea?
Being regarded, as one of the top British food emporiums should come with some large responsibilities, one of which should be the ethical treatment of animals. Fortum and Mason should be leading the country by example, and not putting profit up for exploitation.
F&M’s famed previously for the finest British Royal meat, has hit rock bottom in my books. By stocking and selling foie gras you have done your country, store and British famers a massive disservice, not to mention the copious amounts of birds, which you contribute in torturing on a daily basis.
I should now point out I am not some hippy, tree-loving vegetarian, on a vegan quest to change the world one animal bite at a time, but someone who cares about animal welfare, standards and where her foods comes from. This is something all of us should take a pride in- vegan, vegetarian or not.
You should also know I am the grand daughter of a farmer who cared greatly for the welfare of his farm and have been brought up to respect all animals, regardless of what they were bred for. My grandfather always taught us that farmers should keep their livestock to a high standard of welfare while in their care – sadly this is something none of your foie gras farmers could ever say they achieve due to their cruel farming techniques. There is after all a reason why foie gras production isn’t farmed in the UK and the reason is that it’s just barbaric.
We should all be lobbing parliament for the total removal of this product from UK sale. If it’s too barbaric to be farmed here, then it should be too barbaric to be consumed here.
It may seem hypocritical that I have these opinions, because I am not vegetarian and the outcome for any animal bred for the purpose of food is always death. However, I believe we should not contribute or torture any animal regardless of its final fate.
I’m not too sure if you are all familiar with how foie gras is made? If not I have included a short synopsis from the RSPCA website.
What is Foie Gras?
Foie gras means ‘fatty liver’, a product produced from the livers of force-fed ducks or geese and used to produce foodstuffs such as pâté de foie gras.
Foie Gras production
Foie gras is not produced in the UK, and would be illegal to produce under animal welfare laws due to the welfare problems associated with producing it. The main producers of foie gras are France, Hungary, Bulgaria, Spain and Belgium.
Before force feeding, birds are typically kept in buildings on straw bedding with access to an outdoor area.
The force-feeding period
Force-feeding begins when the birds are approximately 12 weeks old and, lasts for around 12 to 15 days when the birds are then slaughtered.
Most ducks (around 80 per cent) are kept individually in small, wire or plastic cages with their head placed through an opening in the front, so the neck is easy to grasp. During force-feeding a feeding pipe is inserted into the birds mouth and down its throat. A large quantity of food is then delivered down the pipe for 45 to 60 seconds using a motorised or hand-operated auger, or for 2 to 3 seconds using an automatic pump. The birds are usually force-fed two or three times each day.
Key welfare issues
We are opposed to the production of foie gras due to the many serious welfare problems it causes for the birds involved, including:
- • Force-feeding prevents birds from carrying out their normal feeding behaviour.
- • The feeding pipe can damage the birds’ throats.
- • The handling involved during force-feeding can be stressful.
- • Birds’ livers may become 6 to 10 times the normal size and stop working properly.
- • The keeping of birds in small, individual cages doesn’t allow the birds to stand, walk, preen, stretch their wings or carry out their normal behaviours properly.
I would expect an on-trend store such and Fortnum and Mason to be following examples from the royals, who have also banned foie gras from all of their menus at all of their residencies.
I now look forward to your response as to why you have chosen to supply this product and what the future holds for the foie gras in your store. As a prestigious retailer I would hope that you seek to totally remove this product from sale as of immediate effect and cancel any further buying, doing right by the British public and the animals that this cruel product serves.
Diana Von Kirk