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Celebrities & Campaigners Call For Ban On Lobsters & Crabs Being Boiled Alive

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More than 50 high-profile campaigners and celebrities are calling for protection to stop lobsters and crabs being boiled alive. Wildlife presenter Chris Packham and comedian Bill Bailey are among those who have signed an open letter to Environment Secretary Michael Gove.

They say there is clear scientific evidence that lobsters can feel pain, and call for the crustaceans to be classed as sentient creatures in a new Animal Welfare Bill. The letter says decapods, the group of crustaceans including lobsters and crabs, are ‘crammed together in brightly lit tanks’ within restaurants. It states:

‘There is no economic or culinary reason why decapods cannot be humanely dispatched, yet killing is sometimes preceded by breaking off the legs, head or tail, and is often accomplished by boiling alive.’

Switzerland last month banned the practice of boiling lobsters alive, stipulating that they must now be stunned before being killed. Experts suggest that crabs boiled alive for eating can remain conscious for more than two minutes. There is also evidence that crustaceans exposed to painful substances and mild injury rub the affected parts of their bodies, suggesting they are in pain. The letter states:

‘There is growing global unease about the extreme treatments these animals are routinely subjected to in the food industry, such as shrink-wrapping whilst still alive, breaking off the head or tail whilst still alive, or delivering them live to consumers for storing and cooking.’

The letter, circulated by animal welfare organisation Crustacean Compassion is also signed by wildlife presenter Michaela Strachan, Dr Julia Wrathall, chief scientific officer for the RSPCA, and prominent neuroscientist Professor Anil Seth. The draft version of the Animal Welfare Bill recognises wild animals as sentient beings, but its precise scope is still being considered. A Defra spokesman said:

‘We are committed to the very highest standards of animal welfare. 

‘As the Prime Minister has set out, we will make the United Kingdom a world leader in the care and protection of animals as we leave the EU.

‘We are currently consulting on the draft Bill and will consider responses when bringing the Bill forwards.’ 

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