SANTA ANA ( — Animal rights groups plan to protest at a Santa Ana restaurant Saturday night during a scheduled foie gras eating contest, which would test California’s ban on the delicacy.

Playground, located at 220 E. Fourth Street, is hosting the “food eating challenge,” but the restaurant’s manager said they’re not sponsoring it.

The law banning production and sales of foie gras, usually made by force-feeding ducks and geese corn through tubes in their throats, went into effect July 1. Restaurants can face fines of up to $1,000.

Playground officials don’t believe they would be violating the ban because they are not selling foie gras, just letting people eat it.

Bryan Pease of the Animal Protection and Rescue League is organizing the protest, along with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and the Stop Force Feeding Coalition.

He said the eatery is violating the ban.

“Considering they’re selling it if they’re charging contestants a fee to compete in a food-eating contest,” Pease said.

“Maybe they won’t charge for the contest anymore and eat the 400 bucks for the publicity,” he continued. “But if anybody’s accepting money in exchange for serving foie gras then that’s exactly what the law prohibits.”

Santa Ana police Cpl. Anthony Bertagna said it’s unknown whether the law forbids even serving the dish for free.

He said officials were meeting with attorneys to go over the law.

A federal lawsuit challenging the law has been filed by multiple organizations, including Hot’s Restaurant Group, which operates eateries in Hermosa Beach and Northridge.

(©2012 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)


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