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


A new Swiss law that bans the practice of boiling lobsters alive is eliciting more smiles than concern on this side of the Atlantic.

Activists say that lobsters and other invertebrates should therefore be killed humanely, either by putting them in a state of unconsciousness or killing them immediately.

In the United Kingdom, such decapods are not classed as "animals" and therefore aren't covered by the Animal Welfare Act, so may be killed in the vengeful manner of your choosing.

The Swiss government's decision to put both laws in place has come after studies found that lobsters can perceive and feel things like pain thanks to their advanced nervous system.

"With the data we know, it is highly likely that the animal will be in pain", of Queens University, Belfast.

The ruling follows, which prevents lobsters from being stored on ice in restaurant kitchens.

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The government also ordered the live crustaceans to be transported in their natural habitat and not on ice or icy water. "We give protection to birds and mammals, now we give very little protection to decapod crustaceans - lobsters and crabs", Elwood said.

"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.

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

David McMillan, the owner of several prestigious Montreal restaurants including Joe Beef, admits he found the new law a little amusing and wondered if it was the result of public pressure after social media videos showing lobsters being boiled alive. The government said the crustaceans must be "stunned" before being boiled.

"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, Reuters reports. Thankfully, there are new devices that can stun a lobster in a fast and humane way, with the voltage also killing the bacteria. Elwood has studied crustaceans for decades and has explored whether the animals do in fact feel pain-a belief that's often debated.

Elwood hopes to discourage the practice of not only boiling but also dismembering while the animal is alive.