MasterChef Under Scrutiny After Allegedly Serving Cooked Capybara Meat During Episode

MasterChef Ecuador is receiving scrutiny from viewers and conservationists after the most recent episode featured various slabs of meat allegedly including shark, deer, crocodile, and capybara.

During the January 3 episode, the four types of meat were laid out on wooden slabs for the chefs to cook.

The meat in question was described as the "world's largest rodent" and many assumed it was the capybara. But environmentalists claim some or all of the meat from the episode potentially came from protected species.

The capybara is a semi-aquatic mammal that can weigh up to 175 pounds. The species can be found around North and South America, with a small invasive population living in Florida, according to National Geographic.

Although the species was listed as having a stable population in 2016, some local populations have been wiped out in various areas due to hunting.

The episode sparked enough outrage that the environmental ministries of both Ecuador, where the show was broadcast, and Colombia, where it was filmed, have reached out to the show about their actions.

Ecuador's environment ministry released a statement about the episode saying it rejected any content that "encourages the purchase and consumption of wild species or their constituent elements." They also stated that these sorts of crimes can be punishable for up to three years.

Colombia's Environment Minister Carlos Eduardo Correa announced on Twitter that he was launching an investigation into the use of "wildlife by-products in television programs." He also mentioned that it is a crime in Colombia to traffic and market wildlife.

Many environmentalists and animal rights activists took to social media to share their disappointment with the show. On Twitter, the National Animal Movement of Ecuador released a statement condemning the consumption of the animals.

In the statement, they mentioned that the consumption of the animals from the episode is prohibited in Ecuador except for exceptions that "clearly do not apply" to the show.

MAN also warned that the use of the ingredients on the show could "normalize the consumption of protected animals, whose ownership contributes to the trafficking of wild animals and the destruction of ecosystems."

Carolina Sanchez, the show's chef and judge, responded that the meat was "from a farm," France24 reported.

Teleamazonas, the independent broadcast company that produces MasterChef Ecuador has not released a statement about the allegations.

Quickly after the allegations began to surface, MasterChef Ecuador removed the 90-minute episode from Youtube before reposting an edited version that did not show the meat, Vice reported.

Capybara walking through grass
MasterChef Ecuador is facing allegations that they used capybara meat in an episode from January 3. Now, environmentalist groups are calling out the show. Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images