Top Chef Canada horse meat episode raises cultural, moral and food safety concerns


May 12, 2011

OTTAWA, Canada (May 12, 2011) — Top Chef Canada is stirring up controversy that raises cultural, moral and food safety concerns with an upcoming episode featuring horse meat.

Episode 6: “The French Feast”, that includes horse meat as one of the key ingredients chefs must cook with in the competition, is scheduled to air May 16, 2011 on Food Network Canada.

Following a televised preview of the episode, commenters began flooding the Top Chef Facebook page and sending emails to Top Chef Canada and Food Network Canada objecting to the inclusion of horse meat in the program. Many of them are also complaining to sponsor President’s Choice, and GE Monogram, the show’s official appliance supplier.

“There are three issues generating the Top Chef horse meat controversy”, states Vivian Grant Farrell, president of the US-based equine protection group Int’l Fund for Horses, “cultural, moral and food safety.”

Horse meat is commonly eaten in many countries in Europe and Asia. However, horse meat is considered taboo in English-speaking countries such as the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Ireland and Australia.

Another objection to horse meat are the methods used for the production of it — horse slaughter — and the numerous, well-documented cruelties inherent to it.

“The cultural and moral aspects of horse slaughter are constantly debated between those for and against it. What cannot be argued, however, is that horses are routinely given drugs throughout their lives that leave toxic residues, potentially carcinogenic to humans, in their meat”, adds Farrell. “There is a clear food safety issue here.”

In a response by Food Network Viewer Relations on behalf of Food Network Canada regarding the controversial horse meat episode they state, “it is not our intention to offend our viewers,” adding that:

“Before we decide to broadcast a program, our Programming Department screens it to ensure that it is suitable for broadcast. The determination of suitability includes ensuring that the broadcast would not contravene applicable broadcast laws and industry codes including, but not limited to, the Canadian Association of Broadcasters’ (CAB) ‘Code of Ethics’, ‘Equitable Portrayal’, and ‘CAB Violence Code’.”

Farrell is not buying it.

“I find it difficult to swallow that promoting a foodstuff with the health and safety issues attached to horse meat does not violate broadcast codes, and question their Programming Department’s due diligence.

It is my opinion that Food Network Canada and Top Chef Canada are clearly crossing the boundary of ethical responsibility to their viewing public by airing a cooking show featuring horse meat”, responds Farrell. “I urge them to issue a warning prior to the screening of this episode.”

Three Number Signs Separator #CC6600

Vivian Grant Farrell
Phone: (502) 341 9195
Email: Notification Sent to Phone

The Horse Fund is the most dynamic equine advocacy organization of its kind. Headquartered in the United States The Horse Fund protects horses at home and abroad by lobbying and acting as horse industry watchdogs.

©The Horse Fund 2019 Logo in Orange.

Tragedy and insensitivity overshadow Grand National as two horses die


April 10, 2011

LIVERPOOL, England (April 10, 2011) — Insensitive BBC commentators continued to call the 2011 Grand National as two horses died in front of thousands of spectators and a worldwide television audience of 600 million.

Ornais fell at the fourth breaking his neck and Dooneys Gate fell at Becher’s Brook breaking his back during the first circuit.

Large green tarpaulins screened the bodies of the horses while Aintree staff flagged the jockeys on the second circuit, sending them away from the jumps where Ornais and Dooneys Gate now lay dead.

During the television re-run of the race following the finish, commentators still failed to mention the fatalities.

The public flooded social networking sites and message boards criticizing the BBC and expressing concern for the horses who run in the Grand National. Commenters on the Corporation’s website accused the BBC of covering up the tragedy, minimizing the deaths of the two horses.

A spokesman for the BBC stated they were “aware of the unfortunate events of the two fatalities” and “during the race and the re-run this was covered with as much sensitivity as possible.”

“Sensitive coverage of the deaths of Ornais and Dooneys Gate would have been to acknowledge the tragic event during the race and having an on-air moment of silence in honor of the fallen horses afterwards, not act as if it didn’t happen at all,” responds Vivian Grant Farrell, President of the U.S. based Int’l Fund for Horses and a native of Liverpool. “This type of behavior at a moment like this does nothing for the reputation of horse racing. Instead it signals a callous attitude concerning the lives of racehorses to all those watching.”

Only 19 of the 40 horses who started this year’s Grand National finished the race. The eventual winner, Ballabriggs, was too exhausted to be ridden into the winner’s enclosure. Stewards banned his jockey, Jason Maguire, for five days for excessive use of the whip.

“40 horses in the Grand National are 15 to 20 horses too many,” states Farrell. “A way to shield horses and jockeys from injury and death is to control the quantity and quality of the horses allowed to race.”

Saturday’s Grand National tragedies follow the death of Inventor on Thursday, the first day of the Aintree meeting, adding to the growing list of casualties at the famous Liverpool racecourse.

Four horses were killed at the three-day Aintree meeting last year, and five in 2009. Since 2000, a staggering 33 horses have died at the Aintree spring festival amid increasing protests from animal welfare groups.

The Grand National held at Aintree racecourse is considered the greatest steeplechase in the world. A test for both horse and jockey, the Grand National is run over 4 miles and 4 furlongs with 30 testing fences in 2 circuits.

Three Number Signs Separator #CC6600

The Horse Fund is the most dynamic equine advocacy organization of its kind. Headquartered in the United States The Horse Fund protects horses at home and abroad by lobbying and acting as horse industry watchdogs.


“BBC attacked for ‘covering up’ Grand National deaths”, by Jasper Copping, The Telegraph, Apr. 9, 2011,

“Aintree day of horror as TV audience of millions see two horses die at the National”, by Stephen Davies, The Daily Mail, Apr. 10, 2011,

Vivian Grant Farrell
Phone: (502) 341 9195
Email: By Form Delivered to Phone

©The Horse Fund 2019 Logo in Orange.

Summer reading for horses lovers

You may recognize this list. We featured it last Christmas on Tuesday’s Horse. All of these books are remarkable and if there’s been anything published I would recommend more highly, I am unaware of what they are.

Here they are in alphabetical order. All gems. You will be a better advocate for having read them. I guarantee!

Last Chance Mustang — The Story of One Horse, One Horseman, and One Final Shot at Redemption
by Mitchell Bornstein

Last Chance Mustang is the story of Samson, a formerly free-roaming, still wild-at-heart American mustang that was plucked from his mountainous Nevada home and thrown into the domestic horse world where he was brutalized and victimized.

After years of abuse, Samson had evolved into a hateful and hated, maladjusted beast until the day he found his way to a rural Illinois farm, an ill-equipped owner, and one last chance.

Mitch Bornstein’s task was to tame the violent beast whose best defense had become offense. He had twenty years of experience fixing unfixable horses, but Samson would be his greatest challenge.

Through the pair’s many struggles and countless battles, Samson would teach Mitch about the true power of hope, friendship, redemption and the inspiring mettle of the forever wild and free American mustang.

If you are a wild horse advocate you must read this book. —Ed. • Buy it now »

Riding Home — The Power of Horses to Heal
by Tim Hayes (Forward by Robert Redford)

This is the first and only book to scientifically and experientially explain why horses have the extraordinary ability to emotionally transform the lives of thousands of men, women and children, whether they are horse lovers, or suffering from deep psychological wounds.

It is a book for anyone who wants to experience the joy, wonder, self-awareness and peace of mind that comes from creating a horse/human relationship, and it puts forth and clarifies the principles of today’s Natural Horsemanship (or what was once referred to as “Horse Whispering”).

Horses help us discover hidden parts of ourselves, whether we’re seven or seventy. They model relationships that demonstrate acceptance, kindness, honesty, tolerance, patience, justice, compassion, and forgiveness. Horses cause all of us to become better people, better parents, better partners, and better friends.

A horse can be our greatest teacher, for horses have no egos, they never lie, they’re never wrong and they manifest unparalleled compassion. • Buy it now »

Saving Baby — How One Woman’s Love for a Racehorse Led to Her Redemption
by Jo Anne Normile and Lawrence Linder

Jo Anne Normile was not supposed to keep the foal, an exuberant Thoroughbred with only a few white hairs on his reddish-brown forehead. But she fell in love with the young horse, who had literally been born into her arms. The breeder finally said she could keep the colt, whom she nicknamed “Baby” – but only if she raced him.

Horseracing had always come across as a glamorous blend of mint juleps and celebrity, of equine grace and speed. But the magic that enchants is a veneer.

For every Seabiscuit, there are tens of thousands of racehorses whose lives end in pain and despair, with indifference and corruption that runs rampant through the world of horse racing.

If you are a racehorse advocate or want to learn more about horses generally this book is a must. —Ed. • Buy it now »

by Lauren Hillenbrand

Seabiscuit was one of the most electrifying and popular attractions in sports history and the single biggest newsmaker in the world in 1938, receiving more coverage than FDR, Hitler, or Mussolini. But his success was a surprise to the racing establishment, which had written off the crooked-legged racehorse with the sad tail.

Three men changed Seabiscuit’s fortunes:

Charles Howard was a onetime bicycle repairman who introduced the automobile to the western United States and became an overnight millionaire. When he needed a trainer for his new racehorses, he hired Tom Smith, a mysterious mustang breaker from the Colorado plains. Smith urged Howard to buy Seabiscuit for a bargain-basement price, then hired as his jockey Red Pollard, a failed boxer who was blind in one eye, half-crippled, and prone to quoting passages from Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Over four years, these unlikely partners survived a phenomenal run of bad fortune, conspiracy, and severe injury to transform Seabiscuit from a neurotic, pathologically indolent also-ran into an American sports icon. Buy it now »

Sgt Reckless: America’s War Horse
by Robin Hutton

A Mongolian mare who was bred to be a racehorse, Ah-Chim-Hai, or Flame-of-the-Morning, belonged to a young boy named Kim-Huk-Moon. In order to pay for a prosthetic leg for his sister, Kim made the difficult decision to sell his beloved companion.

Lieutenant Eric Pedersen purchased the bodacious mare and renamed her Reckless, for the Recoilless Rifles Platoon, Anti-Tank Division, of the 5th Marines she’d be joining.

The four-legged equine braved minefields and hailing shrapnel to deliver ammunition to her division on the frontlines. In one day alone, performing fifty-one trips up and down treacherous terrain, covering a distance of over thirty-five miles, and rescuing wounded comrades-in-arms, Reckless demonstrated her steadfast devotion to the Marines who had become her herd.

Despite only measuring about thirteen hands high, this pint-sized equine became an American hero.

Reckless was awarded two Purple Hearts for her valor and was officially promoted to staff sergeant twice, a distinction never bestowed upon an animal before or since. • Buy it now »

Source — Book Descriptions and Cover Images:

THF 2019 Logo. ©The Horse Fund.