Disney’s menu change is good for the goose, not the gourmet

Maybe Donald Duck squawked about the dish.

In a move that thrilled animal-rights activists but disappointed some gourmet diners, Walt Disney World has quietly dropped a controversial delicacy from its menus.

Au revoir, foie gras.

On Oct. 1, Disney dumped the traditional French appetizer, made of fattened duck or goose liver, at the last four Disney World restaurants to offer it — Victoria & Albert's, California Grill, Citricos and Les Chefs de France.

 Disney insisted Friday that this was no political statement. Officials wouldn't even comment on the international animal-rights campaign that calls foie gras production cruel and inhumane and seeks to persuade restaurants to drop the dish.

"It's really just about making adjustments to the menu," Disney World spokeswoman Andrea Finger said.

Nonetheless, activists consider the Disney decision a victory. Bryan Pease, co-founder of the anti-foie gras Animal Protection and Rescue League, called Disney's choice "huge," regardless of the company's official motives. According to his organization, farmers produce foie gras by forcing a metal pipe down the throat of a duck or goose and force-feeding it massive amounts of grain until its liver swells to 10 times the normal size.

"I think if they [Disney officials] make a policy decision to ban the product from all their menus, there must have to be a social reason for that," Pease said. "It wouldn't be because people don't like it anymore."

Actually, people who like foie gras like it a lot. John Bergan, an insurance consultant from New Jersey who's planning a Disney vacation for next month, considers it a rare treat. His Disney plans include dining at Victoria & Albert's, and he was looking forward to the foie gras. So he's angry and said the next time he schedules a Disney vacation, he'll be sure to book a special night out at an Orlando restaurant that, in his view, doesn't compromise its menu.

"What I have a problem with is any restaurant giving in to a special-interest group to the detriment of their customers," Bergan said.

Disney's decision might not be political, but it's clearly strategic, said Kevin Yee, author of the unofficial guide The Walt Disney World Menu Book. He equated it with the giant resort's recent decisions to eliminate trans fats from its fried foods and to replace french fries with apple slices on children's menus.

"It's kind of inching the resort toward socially responsible food," Yee said.

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