Lobsters may not really scream when you boil them – they don’t possess vocal cords – but research shows they can feel pain, and Switzerland’s government decided to do something about the common culinary practice of boiling lobsters alive. According to the government order, the crustaceans “will now have to be stunned before they are put to death.”
Lobsters in Switzerland now have to be stunned before chefs plunge them into hot water to cook them. The government banned the practice of boiling live lobsters amid concerns the creatures might be able to experience pain. Research from Queen’s University Belfast seems to back them up – a 2013 study on crabs discovered they’re likely to feel pain. Since then, researchers have called upon the food industry to reconsider the treatment of crabs and other live crustaceans like prawns and lobsters.
Switzerland’s new rule is part of an overhaul of animal protection laws that goes into effect on March 1. Swiss public broadcaster RTS said the accepted stunning methods are electric shock or mechanical destruction of the creature’s brain.
The government is also outlawing the practice of transporting live crustaceans like lobsters in icy water or on ice, saying they must “always be held in their natural environment.”
Some people have contended crustaceans like lobsters can’t feel pain, since they only possess nociception, or “a reflex response to move away from a noxious stimulus,” according to Nature‘s news blog. Animal behavior researcher Robert Elwood doesn’t agree. He said there’s strong evidence crustaceans do feel pain.