The Michelin starred Box Tree restaurant in Ilkley has removed pate de foie gras from its menu in the face of protests by an animal rights group.

The group threatened to demonstrate outside the restaurant on Church Street unless it stopped serving the delicacy because its primary ingredient is goose or duck liver from birds which are often force fed.

A spokesman for Animal Rights Ilkley made the protest threat against Box Tree during a demonstration outside the Ramus fish shop in South Hawkesworth Street.

Box Tree owner Rena Gueller said: "We have taken it off the menu because we don't want any aggravation. It is a shame, because a lot of people enjoy it and would like to have it.

"We accept that some of these farms treat their animals badly, but we don't source any of our products from any place like that."

On some farms, foie gras is produced by force feeding geese and ducks by putting metal tubes down their throats to make them gain weight more quickly. The ducks and geese grow much larger than normal as a result, and protesters believe this constitutes torturing the animals.

Mrs Gueller said the quality of the product would be damaged if cruelty was involved in the production. She said it was up to the Government to intervene if any food product thought to be produced in an unacceptable way.

She said she disagreed with tactics used by animal rights groups and suggested they target the Government rather than individual shops and restaurants.

Mr Harrington said: "There is a lot of cruelty involved in the industry and it is illegal to produce it in the UK. We have spoken to a few customers and a couple have turned away. The public have been quite supportive as well."

He said the group had contacted the Box Tree restaurant and the manager had promised to discuss the subject with chef Simon Gueller. The group said it would organise similar protests at the Box Tree if foie gras stayed on.

Fellow protester Andy Ford said: "What reputable business in the UK would sell something that is illegal to produce in the UK?"

However, the Ramus fish shop managing director Jonathan Batchelor said he would not be removing pate foie gras from the menu. "I am not the sort of person who will be told what to do by other people," said Mr Batchelor, who said he respected the right to protest. He added: "It is a big campaign and I know of other businesses that have been targeted so it is not a huge surprise."

He said the amount of foie gras sold by the shop was only small and did not think customers would be put off by the protesters.

The ten-strong Animal Rights Ilkley group said it had checked local shops and restaurants to make sure they did not sell foie gras before embarking on its protest, and believed Ramus was now the last shop to sell the delicacy.

Mr Harrington said protests at Ramus would continue until the group got what it wanted.

"We will just carry on protesting and calling for a boycott. About 200 business in the UK have already taken it off," he said.