How do you humanely kill a lobster at home? You don't.

Lobster in the ocean

You may have read recently that Switzerland has announced a ban on boiling lobsters alive, but did you know that here in the UK, lobsters aren’t protected at all?

Whilst other sentient animals in the food chain such as pigs and chickens are protected by the Animal Welfare Act 2006, lobsters, squid, crabs and crayfish are completely unprotected – something we’re lobbying to change.

Our team of technical specialists at the RSPCA, backed by growing scientific evidence, have for many years firmly believed that lobsters, crabs and other crustaceans are capable of feeling pain, and should therefore be treated with kindness and compassion.

Can lobsters really feel pain?

We believe lobsters, crabs and other crustaceans can absolutely feel pain, and we’re not alone. Professor Robert Elwood of Queen’s University in Northern Ireland, has researched the issue for many years, and he states that crustaceans show all indicators of feeling pain. The reactions they show when being boiled alive or drowned are not reflex actions, they’re consistent with feeling pain.

Is there a humane way to kill a lobster?

We believe that electrical stunning before killing of lobsters is the most humane and effective method as it renders them immediately insensible before death which then occurs within seconds.

Plunging them into boiling water, freezing them or ‘drowning’ them in fresh water are not humane.

Equally stabbing the lobster or crab between the eyes so it directly destroys the brain isn’t always a quick and humane way to slaughter a lobster. With lobsters having 13 brain centres, unless the you know exactly what you’re doing, it’s unlikely to be a humane and you may lose a few fingers in the process.

So what can I do?

We know it’s not likely that you’ll be installing your very own crustacean-stunning machine at home anytime soon! Rather than buying them live to cook at home buy lobsters and crabs that have already been killed by a humane method like stunning, before being frozen, so you can purchase them still fresh. Be sure to check with the retailer about the method of slaughter before purchasing.

If you agree with us that lobsters and crabs can feel pain and deserve to be protected under law so people can no longer boil them alive, you can support this Crustacean Compassion petition here, telling Michael Gove, George Eustice and DEFRA that the time has come to protect decapod crustaceans by including them in the Animal Welfare Act 2006.

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