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Animal Welfare
Stunning before slaughter – not just an issue for livestock

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Crustaceans may be capable of suffering if they are cooked and eaten without prestunning, welfare scientists were told at the Humane Slaughter Association's (HSA's) conference in Portsmouth on June 30. John Bonner reports

BOB Elwood of the Department of Biological Science at Queen's University Belfast described studies that suggested that lobsters, crabs and prawns are able to perceive pain rather than simply showing reflex reactions to avoid danger. He told delegates at the conference that the findings raised questions about the ethical acceptability of the usual cooking method involving placing them alive in boiling water.

An animal behaviourist who investigates aggression in crustaceans, Professor Elwood described how he began his studies after a chance meeting in an Ulster pub with the noted seafood chef Rick Stein. He was asked whether these animals were able to perceive pain in ways similar to vertebrates. Consequently, he devised a series of experiments intended to find out if the movements shown by a lobster …

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