Gordon Ramsay is set to cause yet more controversy with his new series of The F Word, which will feature a horse barbecue.

In the programme screening on C4 next Tuesday, presenter Janet Street-Porter travels to France to buy horse meat, which she then cooks and sells to punters at Cheltenham Racecourse.

But the feature has raised concern among animal welfare groups, who claim the stunt ‘reeks of desperation’.

Janet is filmed investigating red meat alternatives to beef, and urges them to ‘take seriously’ the potential of horse as a nutritious food source.

Discussing the taste, Gordon says on the programme: “It’s quite gamey and packed with protein”.

But a spokeswoman for the show said: “Gordon is talking about the actual flavour (of horse), but not actually endorsing it. It is Janet who urges people to try it.”

It is not illegal to eat horse meat in Great Britain, although it is uncommon.

A spokeswoman for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals said: “Truly talented chefs rely on their culinary skills, not controversy, to grab headlines.

“In a country where thousands of people go vegetarian each week, Ramsay’s attempt to be outrageous, first by positioning himself as a vegetarian hater, and now by having horse meat on his show, reeks of desperation.”

Dr Julia Wrathall, head of farm animals at the RSPCA, said the charity would have significant concerns over horse welfare if the animals were imported for UK consumption.