The British Veterinary Association, for the first time, is calling for an end of a gruesome practice that has been carried for centuries – boiling lobsters alive.
The British vet association is citing recent scientific evidence that proves shellfishes actually feel pain when boiled alive, contrary to the popular notion which says they don’t have necessary organs that lead to the sensation of pain.
British chefs are now under increasing pressure to make sure the animals end their life more ‘humanely,’ as vets demand to outlaw bringing lobsters to a boil to kill them in painful death that could take up to 15-minutes, Mail Online reports.
The British Veterinary Association, comprising of more than 18,000 doctors, demand stunning the shellfish before boiling, an action that must be compulsorily followed by chefs, they say.
Do lobsters feel pain?
The question if lobsters feel pain is of an extensive debate as it has been for decades.
For instance, The Lobster Institue of Maine – where the shellfish is an icon – has maintained that cooking a lobster is equal to cooking a ‘big bug’ which they argue is that lobsters have not developed their primitive central nervous system which is ineffective to make them feel pain like humans do.
“Cooking a lobster is like cooking a big bug. Do you have the same concern when you kill a fly or mosquitoes?” executive director of the lobster institute Robert Bayer was quoted as saying by the Business Insider in 2018.
Apparently, most of the science surrounding the pain or no-pain debate of lobsters and crabs have been inconclusive. Sometimes researchers found the animal’s brain is incapable of sensing pain, the other time’s researchers realized they reacted to a stimulus that could cause pain like an electric shock.
What is the recent evidence?
According to the BVA, the latest scientific evidence has shown shellfishes are sentient- or they can feel pain. Countries like Austria, Switzerland, New Zealand, Norway, and some parts of Australia have already banned boiling lobsters alive.
Mail Online noted, a number of high-profile kitchens in the UK use electronic stunning devices to prepare lobsters, including Celebrity chef Giorgio Locatelli, who runs the Michelin-starred Locanda Locatelli in London.
‘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,’ Giorgio Locatelli told the British media outlet.
Animal welfare organization 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 BBC noted, crabs and lobsters do not qualify for the term ‘animal’ as described in the Animal Welfare Act 2006, meaning that crabs and shellfishes do not have any legal restrictions before processing.
A Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs spokesperson told the BBC: “We are committed to the very highest standards of animal welfare.
“As the prime minister has set out, we will make the United Kingdom a world leader in the care and protection of animals as we leave the EU.
“We are currently consulting on the draft Bill and will consider responses when bringing the Bill forwards.”
Mainstream science, however, will prove how to kill lobsters and crabs without causing too much pain, and unfortunately, the search will still be to find a way to ‘kill’ them, not save them from being killed at all.