Do lobsters feel pain when boiled alive?

New evidence for the “do lobsters feel pain” debate: it has been scientifically proven that if you throw them in boiling water, they will suffer.

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By Jane

Do lobsters feel pain when boiled alive?

Do lobsters feel pain?: yes, they suffer just like mammals, especially when their short life ends in the pot in a restaurants kitchen or in the clutches of a chef.

We have always thought, that is until now, that the movements of a lobster when thrown into boiling water were just automatic reflexes. This is why the biologists Elwood and Barry Magee Irish from the ‘Queen’s School of Biological Sciences‘ wanted to conduct an experimental study into this, which was supported by the scientific journal ‘Journal of Experimental Biology‘.

The researchers arrived at their conclusion by subjecting a series of crabs to small electric shocks.

The animals tended to hide afterwards to try to avoid the pain experienced during the previous shock. A voluntary behavior, that observed by the two biologists, easily distinguishable from automated movements and involuntary reflexes generated by the peripheral nerve endings of the animal.

Do lobsters feel pain? Crustacean sentience as a matter of fact

It had been previously argued that lobsters and other crustaceans don’t possess a true brain. But this does not mean that they can’t feel pain. Possibly, they are not aware in the same way a mammal is. But the truth is that they show reactions to tissue damage, both hormonally and physically.

The twitching tail is notably the most visible sign of pain. But not anyone knows that lobster release cortisol in the bloodstream when hurt. What is cortisol? It’s the same hormone that we humans produce in the adrenal cortex in response to pain and stress.

Do lobsters feel pain when boiled alive
Do lobsters feel pain when boiled alive? Yes, they do.

Is there anything we can do to ease their suffering?

Common knowledge had it that putting the lobster in cold water that is brought to the boil little by little helped anaesthetize the lobster. But this is entirely false. On the contrary, it appears to extend the lobster’s suffering.

Other people suggest that chilling the lobster in the freezer for a short time – without freezing it – before cooking will numb the lobster and minimize its pain.

However, we don’t really know when lobsters feel less pain. If you want to avoid this kind of suffering, just don’t eat them.

The appeal now is addressed to restaurants and food businesses around the world to put an end to this torture. Their chefs have agreed to try and make the death as ‘painless’ as possible, but are waiting for further research from scientists and guidance on how to do this.

Up until now the traditional method to cook a lobster is by immersion in boiling water, during in which the animal tries to resist, so much so that it is advisable to tie his claws to a wooden board and immediately close the lid so it does not come out in its struggle. The reason for this cooking method is because the meat is more tender. It appears that they become stringy, if the animal is cooked once dead.

We appeal to you, instead of ordering this ‘specialty’. Don’t wait for the law to intervene to protect these animals, stop there suffering and save money in the process.

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