Swiss insist on stunning lobsters before cooking

Alicia Farmer
January 13, 2018

On Wednesday, the Swiss lawmakers announced that gastronomic practices like boiling crustaceans alive would be banned all over the country.

Neighboring Italy's highest court ruled in June that lobsters must not be kept on ice in restaurants because it causes them unjustifiable suffering before they head for death by fine dining.

The common cooking practice of boiling live lobsters in water was just outlawed by the Swiss government after animal rights activists and some scientists argued that lobsters' central nervous systems are complex enough that they can actually feel pain. An Italian court ruled last June that lobsters can not be kept on ice in restaurant kitchens because it causes them undue suffering. Research from Queen's University Belfast seems to back them up - a 2013 study on crabs discovered they're likely to feel pain. "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?"

The newly-implemented lobster law also offers strict guidelines on the transportation and storage of crustaceans. The crabs always left the shelter with the shocks.

"They are really giving up a very valuable resource that means life to them, essentially, in order to escape from the noxious stimulus", explains Elwood.

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But for Elwood, this is only the first step in addressing this issue. At the moment, there are little to no details on what happens to individuals who do not abide by the new lobster law.

A new animal protection law might upset thousands of culinary enthusiasts from Switzerland, as the Swiss Government voted for the prohibition of killing crustaceans through boiling.

More humane methods of killing and cooking include freezing lobsters to stun them and driving the tip of a knife swiftly through their heads before adding them to hot water.

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

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