Popular television show Top Chef Canada may have cut off more than it could chew with revelations contestants in an upcoming episode will be cooking horse meat.
A scene from episode five of Top Chef Canada, "Pork to the People".
The move has sparked a boycott page on Facebook, and the program's followers have been expressing their views on the show's own Facebook page.
The chefs face a cooking challenge each episode and, in upcoming episode six, will focus on classic French cooking. Some will create dishes with horse meat.
Horse lovers have been expressing their anger and disappointment since the nature of the episode was revealed in previews.
The Canadian Horse Defence Coalition was short and sharp in its response to the episode in its blog, saying Food Network Canada needed to take a reality check: "Food Network Canada has timed their ill-conceived Top Chef Canada 'French Cuisine' horsemeat (foie gras and frog's legs) episode ... just in time for May Equine Awareness!
"In their triple whammy food extravaganza they manage to insult viewers, align themselves with industries synonymous with inhumane animal handling and promote dubious food eating practices, all in one sickening episode."
Top Chef Canada, responding on its Facebook page to the controversy, said: "We understand there is growing concern about an upcoming episode of Top Chef Canada that is set to air Monday May 16th on Food Network Canada.
"Some viewers have noted their belief that the use of horse meat in a culinary challenge on the show is controversial.
"Please be assured it is not our intention to offend our viewers.
"The challenge in this episode involves having the competitors create a truly authentic, traditional French menu. One of the most traditional French foods is horsemeat.
"Horsemeat is also considered a delicacy in many cultures around the world.
"While we understand that this content may not appeal to all viewers, Food Network Canada aims to engage a wide audience, embracing different food cultures in our programming. We thank you for expressing your concerns."
Canada has an active horse slaughter industry, with tens of thousands of US horses trucked north across the border to plants each year.
A significant quantity of the meat is exported to several countries, including France, Italy and Japan.
About the author
As an animal lover since childhood, Flossie was delighted when Mark, the CEO and developer of EquiMed asked her to join his team of contributors.
She enrolled in My Horse University at Michigan State and completed a number of courses in everything related to horse health, nutrition, diseases and conditions, medications, hoof and dental care, barn safety, and first aid.
Staying up-to-date on the latest developments in horse care and equine health is now a habit, and she enjoys sharing a wealth of information with horse owners everywhere..