Swiss government rules for lobsters to be 'stunned' before being boiled


"We give protection to birds and mammals, now we give very little protection to decapod crustaceans - lobsters and crabs - and the question comes, why is there this difference?"

Lobsters in Switzerland now have to be stunned before chefs plunge them into hot water to cook them. Nearly all recipes instruct to plunge still-living lobsters head-first into boiling water before continuing with dressings or such.

The practice of transporting live crustaceans, including lobsters, on ice or in ice water is also prohibited under the new rules.

The professor also noted that while other animals have received protection from governments, the same can't be said for many sea creatures. According to Swiss cabinet officials, animals are sentient and therefore, must not be allowed to suffer unnecessarily.

The new law doesn't mean taking lobster off the menu.

The Swiss have also cracked down on illegal puppy farms and devices that discipline dogs when they bark.

This legislation in Switzerland has sparked a debate on whether invertebrates including crustaceans can feel and sense pain. This indicates that crustaceans manifest rapid avoidance learning to keep away from certain stimuli such as pain.

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A growing body of scientific evidence states that lobsters and other crustaceans like crabs or crayfish can actually feel pain, the BBC reports.

In case you were wondering, the inhumane practice of boiling lobsters while they're still alive is typically done to prevent harmful bacteria from multiplying quickly once a lobster dies.

Switzerland's decision is applauded by Professor Robert Elwood, emeritus professor in ecology, evolution, behaviour and environmental economics at Queens University, Belfast.

Crustaceans may endure stress due to low oxygen levels and overcrowding in tanks when kept in confinement.

Time will tell whether other countries will follow Switzerland's example. PETA has lauded the new Swiss animal welfare law, saying it is long overdue.

"While the particular method of cooking can be considered legal by recognizing that it is commonly used, the suffering caused by detaining the animals while they wait to be cooked cannot be justified in that way", the judges wrote.