One of Thailand’s most famous food YouTubers is in legal jeopardy after he buried a chicken alive and starved it two weeks before cooking, scenes of which enraged his audience and animal rights advocates.
Despite Sahawat Chopchingchai, aka Momm Tanaddak, proclaiming yesterday that he didn’t actually torture the chicken but merely “simulated” a traditional technique in the rural Maefak community of Chiang Mai province, police there said they would investigate after a cruelty complaint was filed by Watchdog Thailand.
Sahawat’s video, posted briefly yesterday, showed the chicken buried up to its beak and fed coconut milk by a dropper, purportedly three times a day for two weeks. After being removed from the ground, it also showed the chicken’s feathers had fallen out and its color had changed prior to being killed and grilled.
Narrating, Sahawat describes how the method makes its meat soft and juicy. The video has since been deleted. He’s been criticized for past clips depicting animal slaughter.
The incident recalls a similar episode five years ago when an emaciated dog was rescued from construction workers intent on cooking up some Coconut Milk Dog. A coconut milk-only diet of starvation and suffering is said to give meat a greasy texture that tastes like sweet coconut milk when barbecued.
As soon as Sahawat posted the video to his channel, which has 3.6 million subscribers, viewers came at him – hard.
“I hope they get paralyzed and have to eat through a feeding tube like what they did to this chicken, so they know how it feels,” Facebooker Kae Aphiwatcharoen wrote.
Another user hoped to see Sahawat, whose “Kao Keang Tanaddak” restaurants are prevalent nationwide, pay a financial price.
“I’m so happy that so many branches of his restaurant are closed. No more support from me in this life, I promise,” Kru Goy wrote.
Sahawat wrote online last night to claim the chicken eaten on camera was different from the one buried alive and the one which lost its feathers which he now says was only put underground five minutes and is still alive.
“I’m foul-mouthed, but I’m not that cruel. We just wanted to show how people in the past ate chicken,” he wrote. “When my viewers said they weren’t comfortable with my content, I instantly deleted the clip. I’m sorry to make so many people feel uncomfortable.”
This morning he posted a clip showing two chickens he said were the ones filmed for his show, presenting it as poultry proof of life. He said they are pets of Maefak residents.
Watchdog, which filed the criminal complaint, was unconvinced.
“If they use the excuse that things were different behind the scenes, then they admit that they lie to people,” it said in a statement.
Sahawat and his team may face charges of animal cruelty, violation of animal welfare and illegally slaughtering a chicken. If convicted on all counts, he faces a combined maximum penalty of up to THB280,000 in fines and five years in jail, according to Satit Patyaariyakul of the Thai Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.