The one thing you need to know before you buy a lobster this Christmas

December is one of the most popular times of the year to buy lobsters, crabs, and other crustaceans. For those who choose to do so, the RSPCA has one very important reminder: don’t buy them alive. Buy them frozen or fresh but already dead, and make sure they’ve been killed humanely.


Why is this so important?

Crustaceans have multiple nerve centers running through their bodies. Research has shown that killing without first stunning the animal and then quickly destroying the nerve centers means they will suffer.

In the UK, a new animal welfare bill now includes lobsters, crabs, and octopuses. This came after an independent review found scientific evidence that decapod crustaceans (lobsters, crabs, etc.) and cephalopod mollusks (octopuses, squid, etc.) are capable of feeling and, therefore, should be considered sentient beings. In Australia, whether these animals are protected under State and Territory animal welfare legalization depends on how that state or territory defines an ‘animal.’

The RSPCA accepts the strong evidence that crustaceans are capable of experiencing pain and suffering. This means that just like other animals that are slaughtered for food, stunning and killing crustaceans must be done by skilled people using specialized equipment and never done at home or in a restaurant.


How should it be done?

Stunning crustaceans must be reflective of the species, e.g., whether they are salt or freshwater animals. Getting this wrong means the animal will go into severe shock and die a painful death.

And most crucially, live crustaceans must NEVER be placed in the microwave or into hot or boiling water.

For those working in the seafood industry, including chefs and seafood sellers, the RSPCA has this detailed guide about the most humane way to kill crustaceans for human consumption.


What you can do

  1. Never buy your lobsters, crabs, crayfish, Morton Bay bugs, and yabbies alive.
  2. Make sure your seafood retailer is killing their crustaceans humanely. Ask about their methods and let them know about the guide.
  3. Remember, as a customer, your voice has a lot of influence. You can make a positive difference in how animals are treated with the choices you make by asking questions and expressing your views to brands and retailers. They are listening, so now has never been a better time to make a point to support better animal welfare.



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