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Decapod crustaceans destined for the food industry are slaughtered in a number of ways, all of which come with the potential to cause suffering.

The most infamous method is boiling alive, either by placing them into boiling water or by increasing the water temperature gradually to boiling point. Live boiling results in prolonged and severe suffering and distress prior to death, demonstrated by the animals’ vigorous struggling, thrashing, and attempts to escape [1, 2].  

Other methods include dismemberment, chilling, and exposure to high-salt solutions, all of which result in prolonged suffering and are thus unacceptable. Electrical killing and high-pressure processing (HPP) have not yet received sufficient research and must therefore be considered unacceptable. Meanwhile, mechanical killing, either by ‘spiking’ or ‘splitting’, comes with the extremely high risk of severe suffering due to the accuracy required, which is easy to get wrong in animals with non-centralised nervous systems, like decapod crustaceans. Finally, both CO2 gassing and using fresh water to ‘drown’ marine species are inhumane and thus unacceptable. 

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It is essential that all nerve centres are destroyed simultaneously to avoid pain and distress, making mechanical killing (spiking or splitting) incredible difficult to achieve humanely. 


Larger species of decapod crustaceans (such as lobsters, crabs and crayfish) have shown vigorous struggling, thrashing, and attempts to escape when being boiled alive [2] 

[1]  Conte, F., Voslarova, E., Vecerek, V., Elwood, R.W., Coluccio, P., Pugliese, M., & Passantino, A. (2021). Humane Slaughter of Edible Decapod Crustaceans.

[2] Adams, R., Stanley, C.E., Piana, E., & Cooper, R.L. (2019). Physiological and Behavioural Indicators to Measure Crustacean Welfare.

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