Medical

Swiss insist on stunning lobsters before cooking

Swiss insist on stunning lobsters before cooking

Switzerland has just put a ban on boiling lobsters while they're still alive and it's a decision a lot of people can definitely get behind.

"The lobster has a rather sophisticated nervous system that, among other things, allows it to sense actions that will cause it harm", according to invertebrate zoologist Jaren G. Horsley who also said he is certain that lobsters can sense pain. The crustaceans "must now be stunned before they are put to death", The Guardian reports. 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.

The new edict comes in the wake of a recent Italian law that decreed lobsters can't be kept on ice in restaurant kitchens. 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.

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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. "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?"

"Assessing pain is hard, even with humans", Elwood said, according to the journal Nature's news blog. In experiments, hermit crabs were quick to abandon a shell if it was exposed to a large electric shock.

"It's a positive move, the Swiss are looking at a potential problem and trying to deal with it", he says. "Crustaceans must now be stunned before killing them", say the rules adopted by the government on Wednesday that will take effect in March, according to Seafood News, which cited the London Telegraph as the source of the story.

This new lobster law is part of an overall reform in Switzerland's animal protection laws. While lobster will continue to be served on menus and in grocery stores throughout the country, Elwood hopes that chefs will employ more humane methods. Thankfully, there are new devices that can stun a lobster in a fast and humane way, with the voltage also killing the bacteria. "I would question the use of that in a modern society", he says.