Mugaritz, a famous Basque restaurant with two Michelin stars, faces a fine of up to 3,000 euros for purchasing foie gras from a local provider which did not meet sanitary requirements. The regional health department said that the Momotegi farm in Oiartzun has been temporarily shut down and Mugaritz fined for failing to list this establishment as one of its providers.
The health inspection was a result of a complaint filed in July by an animal rights group called Igualdad Animal, which claimed that fowl at Momotegi were being killed in an illegal way, the birds being knifed without being stunned first to ensure a slower death and greater blood loss, which results in a better quality foie gras.
The animal activists also claim that farm owner Olga Posse boasted about the fact that Mugaritz owner Andoni Aduriz was aware of her practices and defended them. Posse also provided foie gras to other famous Basque chefs such as Arzak and Pedro Subijana, said the group.
This association also says that it sent the health department recorded evidence in which farm owner Posse boasted about not having a vet and other irregularities that were allegedly overlooked by inspectors. In a video, Mugaritz personnel defended the farm's methods.
In a press release, Mugaritz said that Momotegi was a provider of "small and circumstantial amounts" of foie, and that it will no longer purchase these products. The restaurant also noted that a private lab analyzes every product they serve and that a recent health inspection found no fault with the premises.
Owner Aduriz has refused to make any statements to the media, and left a meeting of the board of the Basque Culinary Center, of which he is a member, ahead of a press conference on Thursday.
Spain is one of the few European Union countries that allows the production of foie gras, along with France, Belgium, Bulgaria and Hungary. Other EU members have banned it on grounds that it constitutes animal cruelty.