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(SOLVED) Do You Have To Kill A Lobster Before Cooking It?

Boston biologist Joseph Ayers, who studies lobster neurobiology at Northeastern University, says crustaceans lack the neural anatomy to feel pain. We know their nervous system is like an insect’s, we know they are very much less likely to feel pain than a mammal. The Lobster Institute of Maine, for example, says that while a lobster might twitch its tail when placed in boiling water, it is a reaction to sudden stimulus (movement) rather than suddenly feeling pain from the hot water 😁 As far as humanely killing a lobster, Ayers believes plunging a lobster headfirst into boiling water is the best method 🤓 [1]
Humans were boiling lobsters alive thousands of years ago. The first recorded case came from recipes attributed to the famous Roman Cook Caelius Apicius in the first century. American chefs later adopted the process by 1880, when they discovered that the dish looks and tastes better when the animal is boiled alive. It wasn’t until later that we realized this also reduces the risk of severe food poisoning. That’s all because of these little guys. They’re a type of Vibrio bacteria. And they thrive on the decaying flesh of lobsters and other shellfish. If a lobster dies, you only have a few hours before these bacteria show up to the party. And once they’re in, it’s nearly impossible to get rid of them. Even cooking the lobster meat won’t kill all of the bacteria. So it’s safer to just keep the animal alive right up until you serve it. [2]
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It is unthinkable that we would be sold a live chicken or lamb to kill at home. Why do some people think of lobsters differently? “They look so different to us, they dwell in completely different environments to us,” says Maisie Tomlinson, campaign director of Crustacean Compassion, which lobbies for the humane treatment of crustaceans. “With their hard shells and peculiar appearance, it can seem that perhaps they don’t feel pain; they look quite tough. But I think that, more and more, people are recognising that it’s not how an animal looks, it’s the scientific evidence of their sentience.” It is time, says the campaign group, to change our attitude to lobsters and other decapod crustaceans, such as crabs, that are treated in a similar way – limbs pulled off, often sold live, sometimes boiled alive. (edited by Lovina Boudreaux on November 26, 2020) [3]
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The researchers from vice.com offer additional information. Scientific research on whether lobsters can experience pain is divided. A Norwegian study says that lobsters do respond to pain signals, but that the nervous system is so different from humans, that it is difficult to say. Other studies argue that lobsters can experience pain, which can be seen by observing their behaviourr. The difficulty is that there are no real rules for the killing of lobsters in the Netherlands. Without any rules, it is unclear what is allowed and what is animal friendly. Last week, a company from the Dutch province of Zeeland received a police warning for steaming live lobsters, which takes much longer than boiling. (last modified 93 days ago by Dalvin Fraser from Kozhikode, India) [4]
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An exceptional page from seriouseats.com points out that very old recipes for lobster call for cooking times as long as 10 minutes per pound. Ten minutes! Per pound! How the had heck done anyone ever eat those rubber balls? As we now know, when you’re cooking meat, temperature is a much better indicator of doneness than time. For optimal tenderness and texture, lobster meat should come to around 135°F (57°C), or maybe 140°F (60°C) maximum, which ends up translating to just around four or five minutes of boiling for a one- to one-and-a-half-pound lobster. (Use an instant-read thermometer.) Any hotter, and you’ll end up in rubber-band territory. How you get the lobster to that perfect final temperature is another matter entirely. (credit goes to Evalina Beyer from Moscow, Russia for bringing this to our attention). [5]

Article References

  1. https://lobsteranywhere.com/seafood-savvy/how-to-kill-lobster/
  2. https://www.businessinsider.com/why-we-boil-lobsters-alive-2018-4
  3. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/feb/11/is-it-wrong-to-boil-lobsters-alive
  4. https://www.vice.com/en/article/vvq7k4/how-chefs-prefer-to-kill-lobster
  5. https://www.seriouseats.com/the-food-lab-how-to-cook-shuck-lobster
Mehreen Alberts

Written by Mehreen Alberts

I'm a creative writer who has found the love of writing once more. I've been writing since I was five years old and it's what I want to do for the rest of my life. From topics that are close to my heart to everything else imaginable!

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