Switzerland rules lobsters must be stunned before they are boiled

The government order also aims to crack down on illegal puppy farms and imports

Nearly all recipes instruct to plunge still-living lobsters head-first into boiling water before continuing with dressings or such.

Animal rights advocates and some scientists argue that lobsters and other crustaceans have sophisticated nervous systems and likely feel significant pain when boiled alive. "Lobsters will now have to be stunned before they are put to death".

Lobsters may not really scream when you boil them - they don't possess vocal cords - but research shows they can feel pain, and Switzerland's government made a decision to do something about the common culinary practice of boiling lobsters alive.

"If stunned electrically or if the brain is destroyed mechanically they are effectively dead", Robert Elwood, an ecology professor at Queen's University Belfast, told Newsweek via email. Beginning March 1, cooking live lobsters is no longer permitted in restaurants.

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This new lobster law is part of an overall reform in Switzerland's animal protection laws.

Activists say that lobsters and other invertebrates should therefore be killed humanely, either by putting them in a state of unconsciousness or killing them immediately.

"Assessing pain is hard, even with humans", Elwood said, according to the journal Nature's news blog.

The professor also noted that while other animals have received protection from governments, the same can't be said for many sea creatures. He has performed experiments on crabs by offering them a choice of two shelters: one that consistently emits shocks, and another that does not. These experiments show that "rapid avoidance learning, and [crustaceans] giving up highly valuable resources to avoid certain noxious stimuli" are consistent with pain.

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It will be also illegal to transport lobsters in ice or icy water as the revamped laws ruled that all aquatic species must always be in their natural environment.

The new law also bans the use of automatic devices that punish dogs for barking.

Italy recently passed a similar law saying that restaurants are not allowed to keep live lobsters on ice before boiling them.

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