British vets launch battle to stop lobsters being boiled alive
British vets launch battle to stop lobsters being boiled alive after scientific evidence finds the creatures DO feel pain and chefs are urged to stun them before they are killed
- Vets demand that boiling lobsters should be outlawed on animal cruelty grounds
- Researchers have found that the shellfish do experience trauma and are sentient
- British Veterinary Association call for chefs to stun lobsters before cooking them
- Celebrity chef Giorgio Locatelli uses the ‘humane’ electronic stunning devices
Being boiled alive is a gruesome fate for any animal – but for centuries that’s how we’ve cooked lobsters, convinced they did not feel pain.
But as researchers have found that the shellfish do experience trauma, chefs have come under pressure to find more human methods of cooking them.
Now vets are demanding that the process, which can take up to 15 minutes to kill a lobster, be outlawed on animal cruelty grounds, The Mail on Sunday can reveal.
Vets demand that boiling lobsters, which can take up to 15 minutes to kill the shellfish, be outlawed on animal cruelty grounds, as research shows the creatures experience trauma
The British Veterinary Association is, for the first time, lending its weight to calls to protect lobsters and crabs, given the latest scientific evidence shows that shellfish are sentient.
The body, which represents more than 18,000 vets, wants it to become compulsory for chefs to stun the creatures before they are killed and cooked.
Many leading kitchens already use electronic stunning devices, which they say improves the taste since crustaceans release unpleasant hormones when stressed.
Celebrity chef Giorgio Locatelli, who runs the Michelin-starred Locanda Locatelli in London with his wife Plaxy, uses such a device.
He said: ‘In my opinion, not only is it more humane it also improves the quality of the meat. Many years ago my wife saw a chef put a live lobster in a pot in our kitchen and nearly divorced me. Since then we have used a stunning machine.’
Gary Jones, executive head chef at Raymond Blanc’s Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons in Oxfordshire, said he had been using a £3,200 stunning device for years.
‘It is very fast, efficient and easy to use,’ he said. ‘Nobody enjoys cooking lobster and crabs alive and not only is this machine more humane than traditional methods but we are noticing an improvement in the quality of the product.’
Celebrity chef Giorgio Locatelli (above), who runs Michelin-starred Locanda Locatelli in London, uses electronic stunning devices on lobsters before they are killed and cooked
Switzerland was the first country to impose a ban on cooking crustaceans alive in 2018, and Norway, New Zealand, Austria and parts of Australia have since followed suit.
Maisie Tomlinson of Crustacean Compassion said: ‘We call ourselves a nation of animal lovers but crabs and lobsters are Britain’s forgotten animals. What happens to them at slaughter is cruel and unacceptable. Unless these animals have been electronically stunned, it can take up to three minutes for a crab to die in boiling water and even longer for a lobster.’
The vets’ association is also calling for protections for octopus and squid, as well as fish caught on commercial trawlers.
Some fish, including cod and haddock, suffocate if caught in the middle of the net while those still alive and stored on ice can take up to two hours to die.
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs confirmed that the UK slaughter welfare standards – already ‘some of the highest in the world’ – were under review.
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