Yet before they get to the shop, conscious consumers are asking a big question – what’s the best way to help make sure the popular Aussie Christmas is a humane one?
Buy it dead – killing crustaceans humanely is complicated and requires specialised equipment and skills. So, let the pros do it and don’t do it at home.
Why is humanely killing crustaceans difficult? Can’t you just put lobsters and crabs in the freezer and then drop them into boiling water? No, definitely not. Crustaceans have multiple nerve centres running through their bodies. Research has shown that slaughter without first stunning and then quickly destroying all the nerve centres means they will suffer pain and discomfort.
Like other animals processed for food, stunning must be done by skilled people using specialised equipment to ensure the animal doesn’t experience any pain. Stunning of crustaceans also needs to be reflective of the species and whether they are from a marine or freshwater environment. Getting this wrong means the animal is likely to die from their body going into severe shock.
The RSPCA has developed a guide on the humane killing of crustaceans for human consumption for those working in the seafood industry, including chefs and seafood sellers. If you have a local seafood retailer and you would like to ensure the lobster and crab you buy has been slaughtered humanely, let them know about the guide.