Controversy is brewing in the Great White North in the wake of promos for a Top Chef Canada episode that uses horse meat as an ingredient. In the episode, contestants were tasked with preparing traditional French items like foie gras and horse meat. After the promo aired, Canadians took to Facebook to express their displeasure with the show's producers.
"The majority of people who own horses in Canada own them as pets," wrote one Facebook user on the Top Chef Canada page. "The major argument is that killing and eating a horse is no different than a cow or a chicken or a pig. Does this mean that it would be okay for Top Chef to also use, say, dog or cat meat on the show?" Other Facebook users quickly set up a protest group, Boycott Top Chef -- Protect the Horses, where supporters and detractors alike have been airing their frustrations.
Food Network Canada issued a swift statement via the Top Chef Facebook page that reads, in part, "Please be assured it is not our intention to offend our viewers. 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."
In her coverage of the Top Chef Canada episode, Kat Kinsman of CNN points out that horse meat is not regulated sufficiently in Canada, and that the slaughtered horses are frequently pets or racehorses that were given medications or other supplements not approved for human consumption. Elsewhere in the world, horse meat is considered a delicacy; in North America, however, it's often seen as taboo.
The horse meat episode of Top Chef Canada is scheduled to air today on Food Network Canada.