Swiss Can't Stick Live Lobsters in Boiling Water Anymore

They have to be stunned before they're thrown in the pot
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 11, 2018 2:41 PM CST
New Swiss Law Changes How Lobsters Must Be Boiled
Lobsters are shown at a July 17, 2017, event in Chicago.   (Jean-Marc Giboux/AP Images for The Maine Lobster Marketing Collaborative)

Lobsters may not actually scream when they're placed live into pots of boiling water (they don't have vocal cords), but the jury's still out on whether they feel pain. Switzerland isn't taking chances, issuing a government decree that "the practice of plunging live lobsters into boiling water, which is common in restaurants, is no longer permitted," the AFP reports. The crustaceans will have to be "stunned" first, either via electric shock or the "mechanical destruction" of the lobster's brain, per Radio Television Suisse. Transporters of live lobsters will also be required to carry them around "in their natural environment," not on ice or in super-cold water. Reuters notes the new rules, adopted Wednesday, will take effect in March.

Animal rights activists have long argued that lobsters, crabs, and other shellfish are able to feel pain, and there's been some evidence to back that claim up. In a 2013 study in the Journal of Experimental Biology cited by US News, for example, crabs stayed away from areas of their tanks that delivered electric shocks. The research is still deemed "inconclusive," though many scientists say it's "highly likely" the creatures feel pain, even if it's yet to be conclusively proven. The new Swiss lobster laws are part of an overall overhaul of the country's animal protection rules. Also included in the revamp are new regulations going after illegal puppy farms, detailing how to humanely euthanize sick or hurt animals, and putting the onus for animal welfare at public events on the event's organizers. (A century-old lobster was saved from the pot at the last minute.)

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