Swiss government rules lobsters must be 'stunned' before being boiled

Kenny Tucker
January 13, 2018

Switzerland has banned the practice of cooking lobsters from a live state.

Geneva: The Swiss government on Wednesday ordered an end to the common culinary practice of throwing flailing lobsters into boiling water, ruling that they must be knocked out before they are killed.

"If stunned electrically or if the brain is destroyed mechanically, they are effectively dead". According to the new law, "live crustaceans, including the lobster, may no longer be transported on ice or in ice water", reported euronews, a news media service in France. Instead, they must be kept "in their natural environment" to minimize their suffering.

Italy recently passed a similar law saying that restaurants are not allowed to keep live lobsters on ice before boiling them. Animal behavior researcher Robert Elwood doesn't agree.

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Elwood has conducted a series of experiments that suggest crustaceans are sentient and that boiling them alive is inhumane. "We give protection to birds and mammals, now we give very little protection to decapod crustaceans - lobsters and crabs", Elwood said. The new law comes after an abundance of evidence has shown that lobsters, crabs, prawns and other invertebrates feel pain. The results revealed that the crabs were more likely to leave the shelter which gave off the shocks, whereas the animals in the other shelter remained there.

The scientist says he is pleased governments are considering this data and making changes accordingly. Once the crustaceans are stunned, they can then be boiled pain-free. At the moment, there are little to no details on what happens to individuals who do not abide by the new lobster law. There are methods of killing them which are considered more humane - and which Swiss chefs might now adopt.

Furthermore, the study also revealed that crustaceans possess a highly sophisticated nervous system, which is the reason why Swiss authorities have ruled this killing method as being cruel.

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