Why Do We Boil Lobsters Alive
Boiling lobster enhances its taste and tenderness. It becomes juicy and soft. Cooking lobster is a delicious treat. Removing the meat from the shell after boiling become easier with this method. The lobster does not feel any pain in this process. But in most countries, it is illegal to boil a lobster alive.
The debate has been going on for years about whether or not lobsters experience any pain while cooked alive, or if it is even humane to cook them alive. In truth, there is strong, compelling evidence that cooking crabs (or lobsters) alive is in fact cruel and unconscionable. Groups such as PETA consider all methods of cooking lobsters to be inhumane, as the lobsters may feel pain.
Given information on how lobsters feel pain, you might be wondering how you can cook live lobsters humanely. The most common way of killing lobsters in a humane manner is by placing the live lobsters in a freezer for about 15 minutes, helping them to fall asleep into a state of insensitivity, and then plunging them head-first into boiling water to die a swift and gentle death. Instead of boiling lobsters alive, many chefs freeze their lobsters and then kill them prior to cooking, an alternate method which also kills a bacteria species the same way.
If we really kill the lobsters before boiling, harmful bacterial species, including the species Vibrio, which live in the flesh of the lobster, start to multiply. The harmful bacterial species may instantly replicate and produce toxins, after the lobsters are dead, that cannot be destroyed through cooking. Once lobsters and other shellfish are dead, these bacteria can quickly multiply and release toxins, which may not be destroyed by cooking. Their meat contains enzymes that can decompose it very rapidly and alter its flavor and quality once Lobsters are dead, before any of the present bacteria have time to ruin it on their own.
When placed into boiling water when lobsters are alive, lobsters can sense heat, and they will essentially burn alive during this process. Just as humans can do when boiling water touches our skin, the lobster can also shake off pain. You might even notice when placing a lobster in the pot of boiling water, it moves around and shakes, trying to escape the pain.
|Freeze the live lobster||For 15 minutes|
|Put into boiling water||Plunging them head-first into boiling water to die a swift and gentle death.|
This means it is likely the lobster felt that you were cutting them, and will continue to feel pain from this cutting, until you have destroyed their entire nervous system in cooking. Invertebrate zoologist Jaren G. Horsley believes lobsters experience great pain when cut…[and] feel all of that pain until the lobsters nervous system is destroyed during cooking.
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A more frank way to put this is the lobster acts like it is in tremendous pain, which has led to some chefs leaving the kitchen entirely, taking one of these tiny, light-weight plastic oven timers into the other room and waiting for the entire process to finish. Lobsters often will be shaking in the boiling pan and twisting their tails, which are two indicators that the lobster is trying to get away and might be feeling some pain. For one thing, lobsters will often try to escape being dropped in the boiling water pot by flaring out their tails and claws.
Scientists know that the lobsters tail-flipping action, when placed into the pot of boiling water, is a flight reflex that signals its distress. Lobsters attempt to flee from their handlers when being removed from the water, handled, or cooked alive on the stovetop. Anyone who has ever cooked lobsters alive can testify that, once dropped in scalding water, lobsters will violently flail their bodies and scrape against the sides of the pot in desperate attempts to escape.
Contrary to what seafood marketers say, lobsters really feel pain, and suffer tremendously when cut, fried, or cooked alive. It has been claimed that lobsters do not possess an actual brain, and thus cannot feel pain when boiled alive. It is not so clear with lobsters whether their primitive nervous systems and brains know what pain is either.
Many researchers traditionally have said crustaceans do not feel pain, believing that lobsters primitive nervous systems are unable to handle pain. One of the reasons why it is so difficult to conclusively determine whether crustaceans such as lobsters feel pain the way we do is because their nervous systems are vastly different than vertebrates such as us. As numerous researchers have noted, the data on this increasingly suggests lobsters – and other crustaceans, such as crabs – are sentient creatures who feel pain.
When you boil down the facts — limited though they are — scientists do not have much definitive evidence to make the definitive claim that lobsters feel pain or do not. According to Professor Robert Steneck, there is not one clear-cut case Steneck has seen suggesting that lobsters do or do not feel pain. Of course, we cannot prove this one way or the other: Lobsters, to the best of our knowledge, are incapable of telling us if they are feeling pain.
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It is time, says one activist group, for us to shift our attitudes toward lobsters, and other shellfish of the diapod family, like crabs, which are treated similarly: with their extremities cut off, they are usually sold live, and occasionally cooked alive. Rudy Warner has not seen the boiling of live lobsters done at a restaurant he worked at recently, but hopefully, illegality will end lobsters suffering needlessly, especially at the massive factory farms. The boiling of live lobsters was something that Rudi Warner witnessed several times earlier in my career, and remembers thinking that seemed needlessly cruel. The once-ubiquitous method for cooking lobsters–by dropping them, alive, in a boiling water bath–has been becoming more and more controversial over recent years, and a number of countries are banning the practice altogether.
In fact, many industry experts are actually welcoming new proposed laws that protect animals — because they feel that this is not necessary. Jack Stein has seen the stunner lobsters have prior to cooking, and that could be a way forward, but legislation does not currently clearly state that. Even high heat used in the preparation of lobsters and other shellfish does not kill those nasty bacteria, and preparing them live is the best way to prevent food poisoning.
Is it cruel to boil a live lobster?
Most researchers and animal advocates concur that boiling a live lobster is inhumane. Although lobsters lack a sophisticated neural system, they are aware of their surroundings and know to avoid anything that could harm them. They will experience discomfort until they pass away if you put them in hot water.
Why don’t you kill a lobster before cooking it?
The meat of lobsters, crabs, and other shellfish is teeming with bacteria that, if consumed by people, may make them sick. When this bacteria kills shellfish, it quickly multiplies and releases toxins that might not be destroyed by boiling.
What is the most humane way to kill a lobster?
Behind the lobster’s eyes, just below the point where the claws meet the body, and halfway to the first joint, insert the tip of a sharp chef’s knife. Cut quickly through the head with the knife. After then, the legs will still move a little bit, but the lobster is already dead.