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Switzerland bans boiling live lobsters

January 11, 2018

The government also outlawed the practice of transporting lobsters on ice or in icy water. Animal welfare activists have argued that crustaceans feel pain when they are boiled alive.

Lobster about to be boiled alive
Image: picture-alliance/Food&Drink Photos

Switzerland on Wednesday banned restaurants from throwing live lobsters into boiling water as part of a broader reform of the country's animal welfare regulations.

Lobsters and other crustaceans "will now have to be stunned before they are put to death," the government said in a ruling that will enter into force on March 1.

Swiss public broadcaster RTS said the rule would only permit electric shocks or the "mechanical destruction" of the lobster's brain as stunning methods.

The government also outlawed the practice of transporting crustaceans on ice or in ice water, ruling they should be kept in their natural environment instead.

The announcement is set to anger the country's gastronomy sector while pleasing animal rights groups that have argued lobsters and similar species likely feel pain when cooked alive.

Read more: Berlin crayfish panic as Tiergarten overrun with red crustaceans

Broad reform

The move is part of a broader set of rule changes to strengthen animal protection in the Alpine country. 

The government also banned automatic anti-barking collars for dogs and introduced new regulations to tackle illegal puppy farms and ensure organizers take responsibility for animals at their public events.

The Swiss government's order follows a ruling by Italy's supreme court in June that outlawed restaurants from storing lobsters on ice, arguing the practice caused the animals unjustifiable suffering.

Lobster safari in Sweden

amp/cw (Reuters, AFP)