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Switzerland: New Law Makes It Illegal To Boil Live Lobsters

Switzerland: New Law Makes It Illegal To Boil Live Lobsters

Boiling a live lobster carries a sentence of up to three years in prison

Lobsters have gone from being considered “trash” food fit only for servants, the poor, and cats to being a much-loved, often expensive delicacy.

Everyone has heard the myth that lobsters “scream” when tossed in a pot of boiling water—they don’t, they have no vocal cords, but research does indicate that lobsters (and crabs) may feel pain.

It is on this basis that Switzerland passed a law last year banning the boiling of live lobsters.  The law goes into effect on March 1st.

USA Today reports:

When it comes to cooking fresh lobster, the Swiss are now saying: We feel your pain.

A law goes into effect March 1 that bans the common cooking method of tossing a live lobster into a big pot of boiling water, quickly killing the tasty crustacean. That practice is being outlawed because the Swiss say it’s cruel and lobsters can sense pain.

The first national legislation of its kind in the world calls for a more humane death for lobsters, by “rendering them unconscious” before plunging them into scalding water. Two methods are recommended: Electrocution or sedating the lobster by dipping it into salt water and then thrusting a knife into its brain.

In addition to lobsters, USA Today further reports, the new law provides that dogs cannot be punished for barking and that cats and hamsters must be allowed to see and/or socialize with others of their species.

The same law also gives domestic pets further protections, such as dogs can no longer be punished for barking.

The measure is part of the broad principle of “animal dignity” enshrined in Switzerland’s constitution, the only country to have such a provision. The constitution already protects how various species must be treated and specifies that animals need socialization.

That means cats must have a daily visual contact with other felines, and hamsters or guinea pigs must be kept in pairs. And anyone who flushes a pet goldfish down the toilet is breaking the law.

The Swiss initially wanted to ban the import of live lobsters completely, but as this would violate international trade agreements, they moved to protect them from “inhumane” treatment during transport and up to the time of their death.

In addition to banning the cooking of live lobsters, the Swiss law also provides that crustaceans be protected in transit. It will no longer be legal to transport live lobsters and crabs on ice; they must be kept in seawater.

USA Today continues:

Although lobster consumption in this land-locked country is “negligible,” the parliament had tried to ban the import of all live lobsters to prevent them from an agonizing death at the hands of Swiss restaurant cooks, Kunfermann said.

That drastic measure against imports would violate international trade agreements, so authorities instead issued new rules on how to make the lobsters’ demise as painless as possible.

The law also stipulates that lobsters must be transported to their final Swiss destination in their natural environment — seawater — rather than on ice.

The government vows that offenders will not slip through the net. State officials will be responsible for enforcement, and Kunfermann said offenders could land in a lot of hot water, with sentences of up to three years in prison.

The Swiss are not alone in their desire to ban the cooking of live lobsters.  The UK is also considering similar measures.

The Daily Mail reports:

Switzerland’s changes come as Britain prepares to make similar amendments to their own animal welfare policy on lobsters.

Earlier this month UK Fisheries Minister George Eustice said the government was looking at bringing in a law that would mean crustaceans had to be either frozen to death or stunned.

Campaigners want ministers to change animal welfare laws to include decapod crustaceans for the first time because they say there is evidence they feel pain.

Mr Eustice yesterday said the government was considering amending the legislation. He told BBC Radio 5 Live: ‘There is a serious issue.

‘We know that among some of the larger crustaceans, such as lobsters, they do not feel conscious pain in the way that we do.

‘But there is some evidence that they have a nervous system that enables them to detect stress and this is something that we ought to be considering.”


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I prefer mine drowned in butter….

I expect many of the same people who will cheer this new Swiss pro-lobster law will be the ones who called Utah’s fetal anesthesia law “ridiculous” (

As Alton Brown on “Good Eats” points out, lobsters are close relatives of cockroaches. Well… far enough away for me to allow me to enjoy my “bug problem”. Some suggest submerging them in wine (cheap hopefully) so that they die a painless and happy death when they take the plunge.

Wait until they talk with Prince Charles about plants and their feelings. Do amoeba dream?

A reason for citizens of Maine and Maryland (law applies to crabs) not to visit Switzerland. It’s not like the Swiss were renowned for their seafood anyway.

JusticeDelivered | February 18, 2018 at 4:48 pm

I bet politicians Are under the impression that they can be turned into voters. Next, we can expect them to demand public lobster call to prayer.

Since lobsters are a form of ‘bug’ I now await the decree from our Greater and More Enlightened Minds that all exterminators must first render cockroaches unconscious with an appropriate anesthesia before administering the lethal dose of poison.

Keen legal minds at peta and other lefty bastions suggested electrocution or “stabbing them in the brain with a knife.”

I can see it now: here, mr. lobster, just stick your claw in this light socket (evil laugh). Or: you won’t feel a thing as I jam this knife in your head, searching around hunting for your miniscule brain (louder evil laugh).

Has the world gone mad!!? Painless lobster murder…..Olympic curlers on drugs…..cats and dogs living in harmony…..AAAAAGH!

    Observer in reply to bear. | February 19, 2018 at 5:52 am

    Some enterprising person should go to Switzerland and start marketing little electric chairs for lobsters.

    “Kill your dinner the legal and humane way! Just strap the little guy in, flip the switch, and you won’t have to worry about being hauled off to prison by the lobster police!”

    Next up: Switzerland passes law requiring cooks to provide lobsters with blindfolds, cigarettes, and visits with a chaplain before their executions.

Lobster is soo overrated. Yeah, I know. That’s kinda off topic.

Anæsthetizing crustaceans is not difficult. A proper lab would use tricaine mesylate, easily (and inexpensively) available even in the hyper-regulated United States as MS-222 or Tricane-S, used for sedating or euthanizing fish. Of course “shellfish” aren’t “fish” in any useful sense, but it works on pretty much everything which breathes fresh or salt water.

The typical cook is, of course, not a marine biologist, and so may be unaware that lobsters do indeed have nervous systems, can feel pain (though what they do with the information is not so clear) and react to it, and, when they find themselves in a difficult situation, can communicate that fact to other nearby lobsters.

The average jamoke knows even less about arthropods than the average cook. The man in the street can’t even distinguish a left-handed from a right-handed lobster, or tell the boys from the girls.

Personally, I wouldn’t boil an animal to death. (Well, maybe if I was really mad at it.) But that’s not the same as saying it should be a matter of law.

    alaskabob in reply to tom_swift. | February 18, 2018 at 6:43 pm

    Maybe a little Prozac in the holding pool while the little bugger waits its fate? Still think cheap alcohol would be easier to get.

    But nice to know the basics as you pointed out.

    I have visions of the cook using too much Tricaine-S and dosing the diners.

What does Jordan Peterson think of this development?

Those clever Swiss. I wonder if they can find a way to keep the lobsters from causing pain to the prey they crush and eat.

    Pessimist in reply to Barry. | February 19, 2018 at 4:16 pm

    I confess ignorance. I thought lobsters were sort of vultures of the sea floor, eating carrion, as it were.

DINORightMarie | February 18, 2018 at 6:53 pm

And yet, they allow abortions………. More care for a lobster’s life (and animals in general) than for human life.

What a time we live in………….. smh

MaggotAtBroadAndWall | February 18, 2018 at 7:09 pm

David Foster Wallace has been dead for about ten years yet it seems like his essay, “Consider the Lobster”, may have influenced this legislation.

DieJustAsHappy | February 18, 2018 at 7:17 pm

Well, then, does this mean that they’re more concerned with the pain that lobsters might experience than the actual pain that some of their women are experiencing at the hands of recent arrivals in their country?

Thank goodness. I’m sure electrocution is painless.

Give ’em credit. Them Swiss are smart.

There aren’t any Planned Lobster offices in Switzerland? What about the right of privacy to abort lobsters that have been deemed nutritious and delicious?

Well, I’m glad the Swiss have solved all of their important problems. Must be nice.

The Swiss have completely overlooked the longest-lived critters yet; rocks. They rip ’em apart with picks and hammers and then crush them into ticky-tacky road gravels, entirely stripped of their own identities.

Hamsters are not exactly good at socializing in confined spaces…that part is the strangest to me.

The law also requires that each lobster gets a watch.

buckeyeminuteman | February 19, 2018 at 4:11 am

I imagine two cats in small housing units could be a challenge to some. Introducing a new cat into a household that already has one, to comply with the law, will make everybody miserable. Rather than introduce a new cat, I can see some people dumping their cats along the sides of the road as its way easier. The feral feline population is about to skyrocket. Feral hamsters too… Unintended consequences of government intervention.

If you can get three years in prison for boiling one lobster, I hesitate to imagine the sentence for boiling ten pounds of crawfish.

If you hadn’t figured out yet that the Liberals were INSANE this surely will prove it. Wonder how this new law will affect hunting in Switzerland ?

Yes, but, is it also unlawful to poison rats and ants? And have they considered the zillions of microorganisms violently disrupted by antibiotics?

Noticed law conveniently leaves out people who need silence need having a right to be free of barking dogs.

The world has gone completely nuts. I’m embarrassed to say that I have killed hundreds of the little buggers and never thought much about it except that they were delicious.