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Swiss lobster stunning device awaited

Published on January 06, 2019

Many people like to eat lobster over Christmas, but a Swiss-developed machine to stun the animal before boiling and thus meet new regulations is not yet ready. 

A law was introduced in March this year that aims to prevent cruelty to crustaceans by banning live boiling, among other things. It says the lobster must be stunned before plunging it into boiling water. The Swiss government based the regulation on studies that show lobsters feel pain. 

Equipment has been developed by Swiss firm Rund um Fisch to electrocute the lobster before cooking. The company was already producing a machine to kill fish by electrocution, but it did not work on the lobster because “the electricity ran around its shell without affecting it”. 

So the firm has had to improve the device to meet the requirements of vets and of the law. It is now expected to be available at the end of February, Fabien Loup of the Federal Food Safety and Veterinary Office told Swiss news agency Keystone-SDA.    

In the meantime, restaurants and households can buy a British model, the crustastun, online. It kills the animal in three seconds by giving it a shock of 110 volts, but it is relatively expensive. 

Switzerland imported nearly 270,000 kilos of lobster worth CHF7.5 million ($7.6 million) last year, up by 20,000 kilos since 2013, according to customs authorities. They could not specify, however, what proportion were alive or dead.