animal welfare

Switzerland Has Made It Illegal to Boil Lobsters Alive

As of March 1, lobsters will have to be 'stunned' before being cooked.

by Nick Rose
12 January 2018, 4:26pm

Photo via Flickr user Jeremy T. Hetzel

Lobsters taste so good that many of us are willing to shrug at the somewhat barbaric method by which we oversee their painful demise in a cauldron of boiling water. This time-honored tradition of using medieval execution techniques on crustaceans ensures maximum freshness, so we say, but it also poses some pretty obvious animal welfare issues.

Now, the Swiss government is stepping in to make sure that lobster is prepared in the least gruesome way possible within its mountainous borders. According to Agence France-Presse, the Swiss government announced that “the practice of plunging live lobsters into boiling water, which is common in restaurants, is no longer permitted” as of March 1.

Logistically speaking, the government order declares that live lobsters will have to be “stunned” before being boiled, and “only electric shock or the ‘mechanical destruction’ of the lobster’s brain will be accepted methods of stunning the animals once the new rule takes [e]ffect.“ Mechanically destroying a lobster’s brain might sound brutal, but given growing evidence that lobsters feel pain, a pretty instant death via knife or electrical charge is arguably much more humane than the ol' bubbling cauldron of death.

READ MORE: How Chefs Prefer to Kill Lobster

These measures are part of a wider move by the Swiss government to update its animal welfare legislation and will reportedly also force purveyors to make sure that lobsters “always be held in their natural environment,” as opposed to transported on ice or in icy water. Some mindful chefs (and home cooks) have already developed more compassionate means to end the lives of their crustaceans, though many others do not bother with a swift mercy kill. Soon, those in Switzerland will no longer have that choice.

No details were provided as to how the regulation will be enforced, but the idea of Swiss lobster police is certainly an exciting one.

WATCH: Lobster Luke