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Wednesday, June 23, 1999 Published at 04:40 GMT 05:40 UK

World: Europe

France accused of cruel farming practices

The delicacy, foie gras, which is made from the livers of geese and ducks, is under threat following complaints that the methods used to produce it are inhumane.

The forty-nation Council of Europe has ordered producers to phase out the current practice of rearing poultry in cramped cages by 2010.

The Council said the birds must be able to flap their wings and move normally.

The Council is also studying complaints against the use of hydraulic or pneumatic machines to force-feed geese and ducks to fatten them before slaughter.

France, which is by far Europe's largest producer and consumer of foie gras, denies that its farming methods are cruel. The European Union is also looking at even tougher regulations after complaints from animal rights activists

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