A cooking show is in hot water this week after it aired a segment compelling female celebrities to kill fish, resulting in the animals being thrown on the floor and tossed alive into hot saucepans.
The Communications Authority (CA) confirmed to Coconuts HK that as of 5pm yesterday, they had received more than 800 complaints about the TVB programme Cooking Beauties.
The broadcasting watchdog said the complaints concerned “alleged cruelty to animals, food waste, sensationalism, adverse effects on children and adolescents, and scenes of a disturbing nature.”
They told Coconuts HK: “The CA will handle complaints in accordance to established procedures.”
The TVB cooking show invites local female celebrities onto the show and tasks them with cooking complicated dishes, with the show largely sending-up the contestants for their poor food handling skills.
According to news website Stand News, the episode at the center of the furore was aired on Saturday, June 9 when three female celebrities were tasked with making a tiger grouper fish.
A statement being circulated by two vegetarian and Vegan Facebook Groups — Happy Animal Lab and the Hong Kong Veg Society — took issue with how the show made light of the clumsy and inefficient methods used by the celebrity contestants to kill the fish.
Some were thrown into hot water while others were dropped on the floor. The statement condemned the “unnecessary pain to animals.”
It also criticized the depiction of food wastage to raise ratings, noting how many of the dishes prepared on the show ended up being inedible and were immediately thrown out.
In Saturday’s episode, Cantopop singer Joey Wong — known as JW — was tasked with preparing a stuffed quail.
According to a clip posted by on.cc, the judging panel were less than impressed with the outcome, calling the dishes “disgusting” with one person likening it to “a trash can.”
“When fish and crustacean are thrown on the floor or a heating saucepan alive, as they cannot make any sound, the audience would not realise their pain. Because of their silence, the audience ignore their suffering. Their silence also results in their sacrifice in a farce,” the statement read.
“If the animals are replaced by a pig, a chicken or a cow, will the audience still find this interesting?”
The statement — which has since been shared more than 2,000 times on Facebook — urged the CA to tell TVB to stop broadcasting the programme, adding: “[Whether] vegan or meat-eater, it would not be acceptable to have a programme featured with animal cruelty.”
Netizens were united in their agreement that TVB airs “garbage” and “low quality TV programmes,” and others even called out the fact the programme was sexist.
One commenter said: “Although I’m not a vegetarian, it is unnecessary to show animals being slaughtered on cooking shows and it should never be used for entertainment.
Others also said that Hong Kong needed to update its animal protection laws, citing Switzerland, which in January banned the practice of throwing lobsters into boiling water while they are still alive.
According to CNN, lobsters now have to be stunned before they are thrown into hot water, and the move was made following research by scientists that the crustaceans feel pain.