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Striped Bass Restaurant and others by restaurateur Stephen Starr will no longer serve foie gras. Starr removed the item from menus after criticism.

If you haven't tried the foie gras torchon at the Striped Bass or foie gras and fig empanadas at Alma de Cuba, your window of opportunity has just closed.

Stephen Starr, owner of 11 of the city's premiere restaurants, has removed the French delicacy, a fattened duck or goose liver, from his Philadelphia menus due to what he has called "incredible amount of protest."

Animal welfare activists contend that the process to make foie gras - a force-feeding of moulard ducks through a funnel placed down their throats - is inhumane.

The duck livers expand to six times their ordinary size, giving the meat a silky texture that can cost more than $10 an ounce at such upscale restaurants as Le Bec Fin, which serves both compote and ravioli stuffed with foie gras.

"It's barbaric," City Councilman Jack Kelly said. "I have no problem with foie gras itself, but I do have a problem with the way it's being made through the torture of these poor creatures, and I think it has to be stopped."

Kelly introduced legislation to the city mid-last year to ban the meat from all of the city's restaurants, calling the force-feeding "torture." He is joined by Assemblyman Michael Panter from New Jersey, who drafted legislation to the same effect for that state in October 2006.

"Putting an end to the outright torture of innocent creatures has to take precedence," Panter said. "In some cases, the metal pipe [down the duck's throat] chokes [it] to death on its own blood. Others choke on their own vomit and die."

A bill to ban foie gras production is also before the legislature in Massachusetts. It follows Chicago's May 2006 ban on the meat and California's 2004 bill, which set a 2012 deadline to cease all production and sale.

Starr is not the first Philadelphia restaurateur to ban foie gras. Astral Plane, White Dog Cafe, Blarney South and six others have also stopped serving foie gras over the past two years.

Kelly approves of Starr's decision.

"I was delighted to hear that there are some restaurateurs that have really looked at the situation and tried to correct something that should be changed, to treat the ducks fairly," Kelly said.

Representatives at Farm Sanctuary, the leading animal safety in farming group, are also optimistic about Starr's self-imposed ban. Farm Sanctuary's Ban Foie Gras representatives said that they hope others nationwide will follow Starr's lead, including chefs and restaurant owners Wolfgang Puck and Emeril Lagasse.

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