How To Kill A Lobster Humanely

This page describes how to kill a lobster humanely so that you can follow my easy barbecue lobster recipe.

Why do we need to kill the lobster? Unless it is a frozen tail then a lobster should be absolutely fresh before it is cooked and that means alive.

Killing anything in my book is not a pleasant experience... Well that is the polite way of putting it. Let's be clear, there is no humane way to kill. It doesn't matter whether it's a lobster, a fish or a pig, to a greater or lesser extent we are going to inflict stress and pain on the animal, deny it life and all so that we can have the pleasure of eating it.

It's in part with this in mind that I don't eat meat every day and when I do, I ensure that the animal that died had a good life (wasn't industrially farmed) and I give thanks.

To my mind it also follows that if we choose to eat meat or fish then we should be prepared to kill it in order to eat it. So let's get back to the lobster.

Can A Lobster Feel Pain?

The jury is out on this one. Some argue that the central nervous system and cerebral cortex in fish and crustaceans are not sufficiently well developed to feel pain but others argue the opposite.

My own feeling on this is that if the evidence is inconclusive then one has to assume they can feel pain and therefore take the most humane way possible to kill the lobster.

Traditional Methods Are Now Considered Cruel

The "old way" to do it was quite simply to place the lobster in a pot of boiling water and this would kill it in minutes and cook it at the same time but there's a couple of reasons for not doing this aside of the cruelty aspect:-

  1. Sudden immersion in boiling water can cause involuntary muscular contractions which could slop boiling water over you and scold you.
  2. The sudden shock tenses the muscles and so makes the lobster more chewy

It has been argued that if you are going to use this method then place the head in first, that way you kill the lobster quickly and the tail that potentially could flap is still in your hands. But even so, the lobster only dies when it's core temperature reaches 34°C (93.2°F) and that's not going to happen fast by just inserting the head in boiling water.

The Least Cruel Way To Kill A Lobster

Is first to render it unconscious by placing it in the freezer for 90 mins – 2 hours. When the lobster is cold and no longer moving, place it on a heavy board, take a strong sharp knife and drive it through the centre of the cross on the back of its head.

The experts say that by using this method death is instantaneous.

Electric Shock Treatment

There is a product called the CrustaStun that actually sends an electric current through the lobster and this has to be the best way to kill a lobster humanely although given the $3,000 price tag, this can only be considered on a commercial basis.

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