Boiling lobsters alive is illegal, warns an animal welfare charity which is fighting to stop the pain they suffer at the time of their death.
The practice has become increasingly controversial in recent years, with several countries including Norway, Switzerland and New Zealand introducing bans.
But the method is still the most common way of killing lobsters in the UK despite a new law – the Animal Welfare (Sentience) Act 2022 – which recognised that decapod crustaceans, such as lobsters and crabs, are sentient animals that feel pain.
UK charity the Animal Law Foundation has now written to the Government stating that allowing restaurants and home cooks to boil lobsters alive is illegal – demanding changes are made to the standard industry practice.
It argues that the law, which covers all vertebrates, makes it an offence to restrain, stun or kill applicable animals in a way that may “cause any avoidable pain, distress or suffering”.
Each year, it is estimated that more than 420 million crabs, lobsters, shrimps and langoustines are caught in the UK. Lobsters and other shellfish have harmful bacteria naturally present in their flesh.
Once dead, this can rapidly multiply and release toxins that may not be destroyed by cooking. Traditionally the risk of food poisoning has been minimised by cooking lobsters alive.
A recent YouGov poll found that 78% of Brits think it unacceptable to cook decapod crustaceans by boiling them alive. This follows a similar poll in February 2022 which found 61% of respondents would support a ban of the practice.
Sophie Peutrill, head of programmes at the Animal Law Foundation, said: “The law is clear. Animals including crabs and lobsters must be spared avoidable pain at the time of killing.
The Government needs to ensure that it is doing what it can to regulate the industry.” Dr Ben Sturgeon of Crustacean Compassion added: “By ensuring these animals receive suitable protections under the law, we aim to not only rectify inhumane practices but to usher in a new era of ethical treatment.”
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This article by Nada Farhoud was first published by The Mirror on 24 September 2023. Lead Image: Lobsters feel pain (Stock photo) (Image: Getty Images/iStockphoto).