Food banks in southern France on Monday defended a decision to accept meat from bulls killed in local bullfights in the face of fierce attacks from animal-rights activists.
The meat, worth about 5000 euros ($6095), was donated by local slaughterhouses to food banks in the Vaucluse region from the remains of six bulls killed on Sunday in a bullfight in the town of Chateaurenard.
"Would it be reasonable to throw away and destroy this meat instead of donating it," Maurice Lony, the head of France's federation of food banks, asked.
The donation sparked angry condemnations from animal-rights groups after it was reported in the local press.
France's FLAC anti-bullfighting federation urged the food banks to reject the meat, which its spokesman Thierry Hely said was the result of "particularly revolting suffering".
"For us this is an ethical problem," he said.
"This meat smells of barbarism."
But Lony said it would have been unethical for the food banks to turn down the meat, which he said could be used in the equivalent of 10,000 meals.
"We recognise the rights of organisations and individuals to be indignant at the practice of bullfighting, but for our part we're indignant at the lack of proper food security experienced by nearly 23,000 people in Vaucluse," he said.
Banned in the rest of the country, bullfighting is allowed in parts of southern France as a traditional activity, despite complaints from activists that the sport is a form of animal cruelty.