Switzerland Bans Boiling Live Lobsters, Calling It Animal Cruelty

Flickr | Kit4na

Switzerland has always been a progressive country when it comes to animal rights. Now it is making animals rights activists proud once again with their latest law banning the boiling of live lobsters.

The new regulation is part of a overhaul of Swiss animal protection laws. According to the Guardian, the new guidelines stipulate that “the practice of plunging live lobsters into boiling water, which is common in restaurants, is no longer permitted.”

swiss flag restaurant photo
Flickr | ell brown

Instead, lobsters must be stunned before being dropped into the boiling water, so they do not feel pain. Beginning on March 1, restaurant chefs will have to first stun the lobster’s brain, through electric shock for example, before they are allowed to boil them.

lobster photo
Flickr | fimoculous

One possible device on the table? The “Crustastun,” a Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals-approved device that uses an electrical current to humanely stun crustaceans. It takes half a second to first stun the animal’s nerve system, which makes them unable to feel pain, and then 10 seconds for the stun current to kill it.

According to the Crustastun’s web site:

“Crustastun is a professional appliance for killing shellfish — compassionately and without suffering. … Crustastun is the product of two years’ extensive research at Bristol University’s Department of Food Animal Welfare and the Silsoe Research Institute in Bedford, UK. … It uses the humane slaughter principles currently applied to cows, sheep and pigs, and anticipates legislation currently being considered throughout Europe. It is also wholly endorsed by animal welfare organizations throughout the world.”


There’s some dispute over how much pain lobsters feel. Many people think that the high-pitched screeching noise that occurs when boiling a lobster is due to it being in pain; however, this is not possible because lobsters have no vocal cords. Instead, the aquatic services company Pacific Edge claims the sound you hear is the sound of expanding air bubbles coming out of the shell as it cooks.

Still, animal rights activists have long argued that it is cruel to kill lobsters by plunging them into boiling water, as they say that lobsters can feel pain and this is a torturous way to die.

Getty, Cameron Spencer

Not everyone agrees that lobsters suffer from being boiled, citing their “primitive” nervous system. Robert Bayer, executive director of The Lobster Institute in Maine, told Business Insider, “Do you have the same concern when you kill a fly or a mosquito? Cooking a lobster is like cooking a big bug.”

mosquito photo
Flickr | coniferconifer

Regardless of this dispute, Switzerland is going ahead with the new guidelines for boiling lobsters. They will also require that lobsters no longer be kept on ice or in ice water prior to their deaths, piggybacking off a recent Italian law.

lobster ice photo
Getty Images | Mark Kolbe

The Swiss government is also taking a sterner approach towards ending puppy mills as well as the sale of anti-barking dog collars (which many argue are cruel and painful for pups). They will also be clarifying guidelines when it comes to the role of euthanasia for ill or injured animals.

What do you think: Is this the right move or has the Swiss government gone too far?

Animals, Food, Wild Animals
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About the Author
Bridget Sharkey
Bridget Sharkey is a freelance writer covering pop culture, beauty, food, health and nature. Visit Scripps News to see more of Bridget's work.

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