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‘My foie gras is ethical’, insists new celeb Primrose Hill butcher Jack O’Shea

Butcher Jack O'Shea will sell foie gras at his new shop in Primrose Hill Butcher Jack O'Shea will sell foie gras at his new shop in Primrose Hill

Thursday, July 24, 2014
5:00 PM

It’s been top of their “most wanted” list for years, but news that a butcher’s is finally opening in Primrose Hill has not gone down well with all its residents.

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Butcher Jack O’Shea, who provides meat to some of the most exclusive restaurants and celebrity chefs, revealed he will be opening his “old-school style butchering shop” on the site of the old Gale Furs clothes shop in Regent’s Park Road next month.

No stranger to controversy, Mr O’Shea made headlines in 2011 for selling under-the-counter foie gras to customers in Selfridges, Oxford Street.

Foie gras is made by force-feeding geese or ducks to fatten up their livers, and his actions led him to be sacked by Selfridges and receive threats from animal rights activists.

Sticking to his guns, and branding his opponents “hypocrites”, Mr O’Shea revealed his Primrose Hill store will be selling the delicacy – and that residents can feel “guilt-free” about eating it.

He told the Ham&High: “I’m not here to fight but to educate.

“I’m here to say, ‘if you’re happy eating meat, you can eat my foie gras guilt-free’.

“The geese and ducks I use spend their entire lives living a wonderful, free-range existence.

“All my butcher shops run on the premise that you get bad fruit from a badly nurtured tree.

“When I was growing up, abattoirs were medieval. But things are different now.

“The force-feeding is pneumatic and takes only two seconds.

“If people don’t have a problem with eating meat, they shouldn’t have a problem eating my foie gras.”

While it is legal to import foie gras, production is banned in the UK and throughout much of Europe. Mr O’Shea sources his from the south of France, where it is still legal to farm.

But the claim foie gras is ethical wasn’t swallowed by everyone.

Meg Matthews, activist for the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and Primrose Hill resident, said: “As a butcher, Mr O’Shea has a vested interest in covering up cruelty, but there is quite simply no ‘humane’ way to produce foie gras.

“Force-feeding has been condemned by top avian experts, leading veterinarians and the European Union’s Scientific Committee on Animal Health and Animal Welfare.

“He should be wary of false advertising claims or he may find his own neck in the noose.”

Fellow animal rights campaigner and Hampstead resident Angela Humphery added her voice to calls for residents to boycott the new shop, saying: “For him to say that it takes ‘only two seconds’ to force-feed the geese is enough to make me gag!”

Mr O’Shea, who is in the middle of making a new film about the ethics of foie gras, accused campaigners of spreading falsehoods.

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