Lobsters in Switzerland now have to be stunned before chefs plunge them into hot water to cook them. "Crustaceans must now be stunned before killing them", say the rules adopted by the government on Wednesday that will take effect in March, according to Seafood News, which cited the London Telegraph as the source of the story.
Boiling a lobster alive will soon be considered illegal in Switzerland.
In the United Kingdom, such decapods are not classed as "animals" and therefore aren't covered by the Animal Welfare Act, so may be killed in the vengeful manner of your choosing.
Stunning a lobster before killing it is an effective way to make sure the animal does not feel any pain, Robert Elwood, a Queen's University Belfast professor told Newsweek.
The practice of transporting live crustaceans, including lobsters, on ice or in ice water is also prohibited under the new rules.
"The lobster has a rather sophisticated nervous system that, among other things, allows it to sense actions that will cause it harm", according to invertebrate zoologist Jaren G. Horsley who also said he is certain that lobsters can sense pain. An Italian court ruled last June that lobsters can not be kept on ice in restaurant kitchens because it causes them undue suffering. Instead, they must be kept "in their natural environment" to minimize their suffering. Elwood has studied crustaceans for decades and has explored whether the animals do in fact feel pain-a belief that's often debated. "We give protection to birds and mammals, now we give very little protection to decapod crustaceans - lobsters and crabs - and the question comes, why is there this difference?"
The new law doesn't mean taking lobster off the menu.
"Assessing pain is hard, even with humans", Elwood said, according to the journal Nature's news blog. The crabs always left the shelter with the shocks.
"With an experienced chef, using a large, sharp knife, thrust into the right place into the head of the lobster and then cutting down along the midway - that should kill the lobster very quickly and effectively - and is probably the most humane way in a small operation", suggests Elwood.
Elwood hopes to discourage the practice of not only boiling but also dismembering while the animal is alive.
Animal welfare advocates praised the new law and said other countries should follow suit.