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Cat-meat recipe sparks furor

TV food expert suspended for hailing 'tender, white cat meat'

15 February, 18:45
Cat-meat recipe sparks furor (ANSA) - Rome, February 15 - The co-host of a popular daytime cooking show was suspended on Monday for extolling the delights of cat meat during an episode last week.

Beppe Bigazzi, a food expert on La Prova del Cuoco (The Cooks' Challenge), enraged animal rights experts around the country when he gave advice on preparing ''tender, white cat meat'' in a portion of the show usually reserved for advice about nutrition.

The Italian Animal Protection Agency said they were ''satisfied'' with the timeliness of Bigazzi's suspension in view of World Cat Day on February 17.

The measure came soon after Health Undersecretary and vocal animal rights activist Francesca Martini slammed Bigazzi's comments as ''offensive to the growing number of people who care about the way we treat animals,'' she said.

She added that it was ''shameful'' for a state television employee to recommend a notion as ''despicable'' as eating cats on national TV.

Martini said that killing and cooking cats was not only illegal from a health and sanitation perspective, but in clear violation of norms protecting pets.

''Anyone who goes on television to promote the taste of cat meat is guilty of instigating viewers to commit an act of cruelty to animals, a crime punishable by up to 18 months in jail,'' she said. According to a recent report, there are an estimated 44 million pets living in Italy, 7.5 million of them cats.

Despite their popularity, however, around 150,000 animals are abandoned each year by their owners and there are at least 73,000 annual reports of mistreatment or abuse.

The report also found that 50,000 stray cats have to be rescued and sterilized by local authorities each year.

While cat meat is illegal in Italy, it is a popular winter dish throughout China and much of Southeast Asia.

Photo: Cats awaiting slaughter in China.

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