Italian Court: Lobsters Cannot Be Kept On Ice At Restaurants

250px-lobster_nsrwItaly’s highest court handed down a victory for animal rights activists last week that mandates that restaurants can no longer keep lobsters on ice because it causes them unjustifiable suffering.  It is a decision applauded by many who viewed the crustaceans as being subjected to unnecessary discomfort.  As much as a applaud such decisions in favor of animals, it does still leave the rather obvious conflict with the fact that the lobsters are then boiled alive.

In upholding a lower court order, the owner of a restaurant near Florence was ordered to pay a 2,000 euro fine ($5,593) as well as 3,000 euros in legal fees.

The court acknowledged the disconnect between protecting the comfort of lobsters right up to the time that they are dropped in boiling water: “While the particular method of cooking can be considered legal by recognizing that it is commonly used, the suffering caused by detaining the animals while they wait to be cooked cannot be justified in that way,.”

While I like lobsters, I have not eaten them for many years because I cannot get around the notion boiling the creatures alive.

33 thoughts on “Italian Court: Lobsters Cannot Be Kept On Ice At Restaurants”

  1. Italians are higher elevated thinkers when it comes to food. Apparently, law school in Italy dumbs them down vis a vis food.

  2. Next it will be the act of boiling them that is tossed out by the Italian courts. There are supposedly ways to dispatch a crab, for instance, by skewering a nerve plexus in the creature. But how does one know for certain.

  3. So lobsters need to be kept comfortable and are not allowed to suffer on their own version of “Death Row.” Interesting…

  4. Do not eat lobsters.
    Do not buy ivory. Why? Because you promote the killing of elephants even if you buy a very old piece of ivory. The ivory icons are not all that attractive either. Ivory is sold to people who think that their itShay doesn’t stink. Tell grandma to put the ivory ear rings in the drawer and quit wearing them.

  5. To those who hold to the Old Testament, Lobsters were cited as a species forbidden to be eaten. That settles the “killing” issue.

  6. I still wonder about the very first person who grabbed a lobster out of the water and said, “hey look at this! I bet if we boiled it and cracked its shell it would taste delicious!”

    And there would undoubtedly have been a “hold my beer” in there, somewhere.

  7. It sounds like Italy’s highest court is no smarter then our courts and have nothing better to do. Simple greed!

  8. “As much as a applaud such decisions in favor of animals, it does still leave the rather obvious conflict with the fact that the lobsters are then boiled alive.”


    Not really. Cows are slaughtered by shooting a wooden spike into their cranium. You don’t get to set them ablaze beforehand just because they are going to die later.

    1. mespo, The psych killer, Anton Chigurgh, in No Country For Old Men used that device to slaughter humans. Left no ballistics.

  9. We’re going to Nova Scotia next month and i will not have any guilt when I eat lobsters.

    1. I’d advise not reading the link I provide to David Foster Wallace’s essay, “Consider the Lobster”. Dude could write. You may reconsider.

      It’s about his experience at the Maine Lobster Festival. He explores the nature of the festival itself (judging by the tone he disapproves), the ethics of boiling lobsters and whether they can feel pain.

      1. Scott, thanks for that link. Very interesting article. I personally believe the lobster is experiencing involuntary reflexes, such as a chicken does when you cut its head off. But if I’m wrong…

  10. Any steps to increase empathy and reduce suffering wherever it may occur, is a good thing.

  11. The court undoubtedly based its ruling on the Italian Due Process Claws.

  12. Well you don’t want to watch the YouTube videos of Horses, cattle, dairy cows, and pigs…going through the slaughter house shuts and channels.
    To watch those beautiful brown eyes look at the camera……the stun gun is not always aimed correctly. 😞

  13. Dear Professor,

    A word of advice… bite, just ☝ one and all those issues go away.

    I could live on them forever…..lobster, king, snow, dungeness (my favorite) then I’ll start in on “royal reds” and rock shrimp.

    Butter, butter and more butter.

    Now I’m thinking about flying out and into SEATAC. Reservations at Ray’s Boathouse tonight for dungeness. A night or two at the Fairmont Olympia. Shuckers has the best dungeness claw cocktail.

    Help meeeeeeeeeeeee!

  14. How do you eat corn? Humans bury the seed alive. Force it to live in crowded fields among other corns in one square inch of soil. Against its will. Like a captive prisoner. Where it’s made to reproduce. Then when the new seeds are mature, humans use a viscous machine to decapitate the corn stalk and steal the offspring. It’s all so terribly inhumane.

    And don’t even get me started on popcorn. Let the live seed sizzle in hot oil until it pops. Then put salt on the poor corn’s wounds. And eat it.

    Let’s start a “Save the Corn” movement.

  15. Back in the day, I used to keep a few crab traps in the bay where I lived. I would row out for lunch and pull in a few Dungeness and Rock Crabs. I don’t think there is much difference how they go: chopped in half alive or boiled. They probably die faster and less painfully than most any other animal we eat. The real pain must be when they are in the tank and people point out which one they want to eat. The psychological trauma must be excruciating. I believe it’s called anthropomorphization. I made that word up, it seems. If that’s all they have to do in Italy then things must be OK.

    1. A lot of people made up that word, particularly when referencing the “gods” that people have conjured up, but it also applies to animals and possibly to plants.

      As Peter Singer advised, it’s morally wrong to cause unnecessary suffering, particularly when the suffering is observable, as when a fish is flopping around after being caught.

      1. I have a friend who got into fly fishing, catch and release. I give him sh*t for torturing fish. It’s one thing to catch a fish, kill it, and eat it; that makes sense and fits the grand scheme of things, but to catch the fish, play with it, and then let it go and catch it again, seems a little off. Bullfighting I get, better five years treated as royalty with a fighting chance, however slim, than five years of being cramped in a box, living in sh*t, only to be zapped. I’m sure the fighting bull tastes a lot better. If the fighting bull makes it he gets to boink all day in his own field. Maybe if there was some sort of achievement the lobster could attain, then it could live out its days boinking and whatever lobsters do.

  16. I guess keeping them live in a tank is fine still. Italian courts still believe in witchcraft and Satanism, so I would not take too much of what they do seriously. I do not eat lobster because it is a trash crustacean. You never know what it has eaten. I know what cows eat.

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