- An animal rights group is accusing «MasterChef Ecuador» of using meat from endangered animals.
- Meat served in the January 3 episode appeared to be labeled shark, deer, crocodile, and capybara.
- Part of the episode purportedly showing the endangered meat appears to have been removed on YouTube.
«MasterChef Ecuador» aired an episode on January 3 where contestants were asked to cook with meat from endangered animals, an animal rights group says.
The National Animal Movement of Ecuador, known as Manimalistas (MAN), accused the reality-cooking show and its broadcaster Teleamazonas of supplying contestants with meat from endangered species, including shark and deer, in one episode.
The episode has since been removed from Teleamazonas’ YouTube account and replaced with a new version with the portion that purportedly showed the endangered-animal meat edited out, Vice reported on Monday.
However, on January, MAN tweeted a minute-long clip of the episode that appears to show slabs of meat placed on wooden cutting boards where each is individually labeled as «Tollo,» «Banilla,» «Venado,» and «Capibara.»
«Tollo» is a colloquial Ecuadorian term for types of shark, and is thought to have referred to the humpback smooth-hound shark, Vice reported. The species is classified as «critically endangered» by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
«Banilla» refers to a type of crocodile, and «venado» and «capibara» both translate to venison and capybara respectively, according to Vice. The «MasterChef» episode did not provide further details on the exact animal meat that appeared to be used, but MAN representative Fernando Arroyo Avilés told Insider that it likely included white-tail deer and a species of Amazon crocodile. Teleamazonas did not respond to Insider’s request for comment.
In a statement published Friday by MAN on Instagram, the organization wrote: «We ask the producers of the program and the channel that broadcasts the program for an explanation of where the meat of these animals came from.»
Carolina Sanchez, one of the judges on «MasterChef Ecuador,» said the meat came from a farm, according to French publication News24. Sanchez did not respond to Insider’s request for comment.
However, in an email to Insider on Tuesday, Avilés, who is also a farm animals specialist, said he believes it is «highly likely» that «MasterChef» producers acquired the meat through «questionable means.»
«When an influential international franchise like MasterChef promotes the use of wild animals as ingredients for an ‘exotic recipe,’ it is a punch in the gut for animal rights movements,» he added.
So far, he said they’ve received «absolute silence» from producers and Teleamazonas after repeated requests for clarity.
Environmental government departments in Ecuador and Colombia, where the show is filmed, have publicly denounced the show’s purported use of wild game.
Ecuador’s Ministry of Environment, Water and Ecological Transition released a statement on January 4 saying it rejected the use of graphic content promoting the use of wild species and said it could lead to an uptick in illegal consumption of endangered species.
On the same day, Carlos Eduardo Correa, Colombia’s environmental minister, tweeted that his department would be conducting an investigation into the type of meat shown in the program. «Wildlife trafficking and commercialization is a crime in Colombia,» he wrote.
Ecuador’s Ministry of Environment, Water and Ecological Transition, and Colombia’s Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development did not respond to Insider’s request for comment.