07/06/2012 13:32 BST

Bill Oddie Takes BBC To Task For 'Cruelty' In Including Foie Gras On The Great British Menu (PHOTOS)

The BBC is having a tough old week. Hot on the heels of thousands of complaints about its Diamond Jubilee coverage, it's now facing a battle on a separate front - facing allegations of, at least ignorance, perhaps cruelty for its inclusion of foie gras on The Great British Menu.

The BBC Two programme sees a selection of Britain's top chefs competing to cook a special course at the forthcoming Olympic Banquet, using ingredients of their choosing.

Former wildlife presenter Bill Oddie has fired off a letter on behalf of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) to his former employer, adding his voice "to the distaste and disappointment at the BBC's apparent lack of awareness or, perhaps – worse still – moral concern" in promoting a product so vile that it is illegal to produce in the UK.

"By featuring and publicising chefs and recipes involving foie gras, the BBC is condoning dreadful cruelty", writes Oddie. "It would be admirable if the BBC would literally and publicly disown the production and consumption of foie gas."

Oddie cites his "historic link to BBC TV", and finds unacceptable the BBC's defence that foie gras is "legal, freely available and many people do enjoy it". He calls this "feeble and shallow", saying the BBC is being elitist, "siding with Fortnum and Mason", and that many shops no longer stock the delicacy, which is made from the liver of a duck or goose that has been specially fattened.

And he agrees with one viewer, who complained, "This is neither great, nor British!"

The BBC has responded to Oddie's letter, saying that they have left the choice of ingredients up to the competing chefs, who may use the same things regularly in their restaurants.

They point out that trying to limit the choice of ingredients would involve striking off many other meat or dairy products that some people find equally unacceptable, and would also represent a much narrower view on The Great British Menu than they would like to create of British cooking.

While you chew on the various arguments, here are some images from PETA's racier campaigns - no Bill Oddie, yet. NOTE: Some photos are NSFW.