Monday, 18 June, 2018

Switzerland rules lobsters must be stunned before they are boiled

Shell shock! Swiss govt bans boiling lobsters alive under new animal protection rules Swiss insist on stunning lobsters before cooking
Ben Pena | 13 January, 2018, 16:13

People in Switzerland who fancy a bit of lobster for their tea will now have to find a better way of killing and cooking the things, as the government has passed a law that bans the throwing of the creatures into pans of boiling water while they're still alive.

Improvement of animal rights laws has prompted the Swiss government to ban the boiling of live lobsters, a common culinary practice in restaurants.

Boiling lobsters has been outlawed in Switzerland. The group that is known for its active campaigning to stop cruelty against animals also took a swipe at the United States government for not enacting laws to protect crustaceans.

The practice of transporting live crustaceans, including lobsters, on ice or in ice water is also prohibited under the new rules. Instead, they must be kept "in their natural environment" to minimize their suffering. An Italian court ruled last June that lobsters can not be kept on ice in restaurant kitchens because it causes them undue suffering. Queens' professor and animal behavior expert Robert Elwood supports a more humane approach with lobsters.

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.

This legislation in Switzerland has sparked a debate on whether invertebrates including crustaceans can feel and sense pain. In a 2013 experiment, Elwood examined how crabs react to being electrically shocked.

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The scientist says he is pleased governments are considering this data and making changes accordingly.

But for Elwood, this is only the first step in addressing this issue.

One of the most common alternatives to dispatching crustaceans in the pot is "numbing" them in the freezer before a quick death delivered with a knife.

This new lobster law is part of an overall reform in Switzerland's animal protection laws. There are methods of killing them which are considered more humane - and which Swiss chefs might now adopt.

Elwood also pinpoints a device called the Crustastun, which destroys the lobster's nervous system.

Animal welfare advocates praised the new law and said other countries should follow suit.

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