North Face jackets 'using feathers taken from force-fed geese'Barack Obama, Angelina Jolie and BBC reporters fans of the brandDown said to come from Hungarian farms where geese are force-fed for foie grasFirm had previously claimed their feathers were from 'the very best source' – and never from foie gras geese
A major outdoor clothing brand has been using down from force-fed geese to fill its quilted winter jackets, it has emerged.
The North Face, an American company whose outdoor clothing is worn by the likes of Barack Obama, Angelina Jolie, Sharon Stone and Elle Macpherson as well by numerous BBC reporters, has been found to use down from Hungarian geese farmed for foie gras.
Despite the company assuring customers in the past that the down used in their jackets would never come from a force-fed goose, animal rights campaigners found that the down came from Hungarian farms where geese are fattened using the force-feeding method to make foie gras from their bloated livers.
Fans: Elle Macpherson, President Obama and
Angelina Jolie are brand supporters – but how will they react to the
news that The North Face uses down from force-fed geese
The technique used to artificially fatten the geese means that for three weeks, the birds have a metal funnel inserted into their throats down which grain is poured, far in excess of the quantity a goose would normally consume.
As a result, their livers swell. The resulting organ is harvested and sold to upmarket stores and restaurants.
The sale of foie gras is banned from many UK supermarkets and department stores, all of whom
Cold weather gear: BBC news reader Evan Davis wears a North Face jacket to report from Switzerland
cited animal welfare as the reason for dropping the product.
But while many North Face fans who buy the brand's quilted jackets would not dream of eating foie gras, they are unwittingly supporting the trade by wearing feathers acquired from farms who use the intense feeding method.
Previously the company, which reports annual sales in excess of 900m, had claimed in its literature that the feathers used in The North Face products were taken from 'the very best source – small family-owned farms in Hungary.'
A 2010 brochure issued by the firm stipulated its animal welfare
standards – and specifically mentions that the brand would not use goose
down from a supplier that force-fed geese.
It said: 'We use only the finest grades of grey goose down from the very best
source — small family owned farms in Hungary.
'At no time are the geese live-plucked for their down. Along with
banning live-plucking, force feeding – for foie gras – has been banned in
the supply chain of The North Face down material for many years.'
With a very different story emerging, many North Face buyers will undoubtedly be rethinking their
WHY HUNGARIAN GEESE
'Goose down from this region is unrivalled for its quality and consistency, and provides
absolute finest sleeping bag insulation possible.
'Geese from this
region have the largest plumules with the best structure… warmest and most durable.. They [create products that] will retain their excellent insulating properties for
the transparent supply chain, we’re assured a fresh harvest every year, a
harvest that has not been damaged by moisture, stockpiled or mixed with
other species of fowl.
fillpower qualities (850 fill power and up) come from more mature geese
that are used as a personal meat source for the farmers, hence the
smaller available quantity and increased cost for these qualities.'
What they said in 2010: 'We use only the finest grades of grey goose down from the very best source – small family owned farms in Hungary.
'At no time are the geese live-plucked for their down. Along with banning live-lucking, force feeding – for foie gras – has been banned in the supply chain of The North Face down material for many years.'
One, 33-year-old Jane Daley, said she would now feel uncomfortable wearing the down ski jacket she bought from The North Face last year.
'It has left an unpleasant taste in my mouth, there's no doubt about that. I am passionate about animal welfare and have never touched foie gras. To think I've been wearing a jacket filled with the down of a force-fed goose horrifies me.
'North Face should apologise immediately and let consumers know exactly how they plan to shift their supply chain – and they must do it as quickly as possible.
They must be accountable and they must act fast – or risk losing customers.'
The North Face, which uses grey goose down in around 100 of its products, buys in the down from Californian company Allied Feather & Down.
The plight of the geese was discovered when outdoor clothing brand Patagonia, who also buys down from Allied, investigated the Hungarian suppliers at the behest of animal rights campaigners.
They found that the farms were employing force-feeding methods. Patagonia is currently exploring other suppliers, along with The North Face, but given that most geese farmers in Hungary produce foie gras, the challenge is not an easy one.
The North Face told the Telegraph: 'All of the down we are supplied by Allied Feather is a by-product of the food industry which, as the largest purchaser of goose product, drives the practice of force-feeding.
'We are working to identify alternative long-term sources of goose down that is not a by-product of force-feeding.'
Cruel Ahead of their slaughter, foie gras geese are subjected to three weeks of force-feeding where grain is funnelled down their throat to fatten their liver