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 Cooking crabs 
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Joined: July 22nd, 2007, 6:34 pm
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I half heard an early morning radio report / interview the other day about pain awareness in crabs (and lobsters?) and the best (least worst) way of cooking them. I was half asleep so did not get the details. Does anyone have info on this?

Chris

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clayto


March 28th, 2009, 5:32 pm
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I haven't heard about pain awareness, but I have heard that if you put a lobster in the freezer it will go into a dormant state which would probably eliminate any awareness when it is thrown into the boiling water. I have also heard that if you put a lobster into a basin with wine for a bit, the lobster will be tender when cooked (and probably wouldn't feel any pain). I've never used either method but I'd be tempted to try the former one. Should work for crabs also.

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March 28th, 2009, 9:39 pm
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I don't know which radio report/interview you mean Chris, the day, time, station, might help to track it down.
As I've said before on this forum, I think every living thing that has a nervous system, must experience pain, having said that,
I also believe that a crab or lobster dropped into boiling water is dead before it hits the bottom, and is probably the most humane way to dispatch them. (If you must)

Quote:
Ken, I have heard that if you put a lobster in the freezer it will go into a dormant state
I've also heard that but the timing would have to be right, it wouldn't have to be left in too long as it has to be alive when cooked (don't ask me why, I don't know)
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I have also heard that if you put a lobster into a basin with wine for a bit, the lobster will be tender when cooked (and probably wouldn't feel any pain).
Nice one Ken :thumbsup:
If you put me in a big enough basin of wine, I wouldn't feel any pain either :smile:

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March 28th, 2009, 10:39 pm
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It was on Radio 4 during the last few days about 7.00 / 8.00 am. My radio is set to switch on at 7 to wake me up but is not always successful. There was a Prof. being interviewed on his research or other work and it is info on that which I would like. I must start doing some searches.

My childhood experiences of my mother cooking live crabs in the hotel kitchen where she worked may have some influence on my later becoming a vegetarian. I have never, even before my enlightenment, eaten any crabs or crab products.

Chris

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clayto


March 29th, 2009, 5:56 pm
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Here it is.

Chris

Physorg.org ^ | March 27, 2009 | Queen’s University Belfast

Posted on 27 March 2009 13:38:31 by ConservativeMind

New research published by a Queen’s University Belfast academic has shown that crabs not only suffer pain but that they retain a memory of it.

The study, which looked at the reactions of hermit crabs to small electric shocks, was carried out by Professor Bob Elwood and Mirjam Appel from the School of Biological Sciences at Queen’s and has been published in the journal Animal Behaviour.

Professor Elwood, who previously carried out a study showing that prawns endure pain, said his research highlighted the need to investigate how crustaceans used in food industries are treated.

Hermit crabs have no shell of their own so inhabit other structures, usually empty mollusc shells.

Wires were attached to shells to deliver the small shocks to the abdomen of the some of the crabs within the shells.

The only crabs to get out of their shells were those which had received shocks, indicating that the experience is unpleasant for them. This shows that central neuronal processing occurs rather than the response merely being a reflex.

Hermit crabs are known to prefer some species of shells more strongly than others and it was found that that they were more likely to come out of the shells they least preferred.

The main aim of the experiment, however, was to deliver a shock just under the threshold that causes crabs to move out of the shell, to see what happened when a new shell was then offered.

Crabs that had been shocked but had remained in their shell appeared to remember the experience of the shock because they quickly moved towards the new shell, investigated it briefly and were more likely to change to the new shell compared to those that had not been shocked.

Professor Elwood said: “There has been a long debate about whether crustaceans including crabs, prawns and lobsters feel pain.

“We know from previous research that they can detect harmful stimuli and withdraw from the source of the stimuli but that could be a simple reflex without the inner ‘feeling’ of unpleasantness that we associate with pain.

“This research demonstrates that it is not a simple reflex but that crabs trade-off their need for a quality shell with the need to avoid the harmful stimulus.

“Such trade-offs are seen in vertebrates in which the response to pain is controlled with respect to other requirements.

“Humans, for example, may hold on a hot plate that contains food whereas they may drop an empty plate, showing that we take into account differing motivational requirements when responding to pain.

“Trade-offs of this type have not been previously demonstrated in crustaceans. The results are consistent with the idea of pain being experienced by these animals.”

Previous work at Queen’s University found that prawns show prolonged rubbing when an antenna was treated with weak acetic acid but this rubbing was reduced by local anaesthetic.

The findings are both studies are consistent with observations of pain in mammals.

But Professor Elwood says that in contrast to mammals, little protection is given to the millions of crustaceans that are used in the fishing and food industries each day.

He added: “More research is needed in this area where a potentially very large problem is being ignored.

“Legislation to protect crustaceans has been proposed but it is likely to cover only scientific research.

“Millions of crustacean are caught or reared in aquaculture for the food industry.

“There is no protection for these animals (with the possible exception of certain states in Australia) as the presumption is that they cannot experience pain.

“With vertebrates we are asked to err on the side of caution and I believe this is the approach to take with these crustaceans.”

More information: Animal Behaviour Journal, doi:10.1016/j.anbehav.2009.01.028

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March 29th, 2009, 6:00 pm
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Quote:
I also believe that a crab or lobster dropped into boiling water is dead before it hits the bottom, and is probably the most humane way to dispatch them. (If you must)

I recall many years ago when as a young lad, I used to holiday in a fishing village in Scotland. I was staying with elderly relatives who had arranged for a lobster to be dropped off at the house for the evening meal by a fisherman returning from his catch.

The large pot of water was bubbling away on the stove in readiness and the lobster went straight in upon its arrival. It screamed....that's the only way to describe the noise. Utterly horrible. That, and watching the fish being unloaded, thrown around and gutted was, I suspect, a big influence in my becoming vegetarian a year or two later.

That lobster felt pain alright!


March 30th, 2009, 1:40 pm
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arandel wrote:
Quote:
I also believe that a crab or lobster dropped into boiling water is dead before it hits the bottom, and is probably the most humane way to dispatch them. (If you must)

I recall many years ago when as a young lad, I used to holiday in a fishing village in Scotland. I was staying with elderly relatives who had arranged for a lobster to be dropped off at the house for the evening meal by a fisherman returning from his catch.

The large pot of water was bubbling away on the stove in readiness and the lobster went straight in upon its arrival. It screamed....that's the only way to describe the noise. Utterly horrible. That, and watching the fish being unloaded, thrown around and gutted was, I suspect, a big influence in my becoming vegetarian a year or two later.

That lobster felt pain alright!

Of course they feel pain, I can't believe that anyone would consider that they couldn't - after all, they have nerves and are able to react to a stimulus. However, the screaming would not be a response to pain, it would be caused by air trapped in the shell rapidly escaping as it heated up in the water. Lobsters don't have lungs and don't communicate vocally, so their expression of pain can not be expected to be the same as ours.

A more humane way to kill a crab/lobster is to put it in a warm pan of water and bring it to the boil. They are cold-blooded and thus take their heat from the environment, so at 40 degrees their body would begin to stop functioning, but the gradual increase in temperature would mean that they would not receive a shock and would be unaware of their impending doom (although they may appear to be struggling as the temperature increases, since cold-blooded animals become more active at higher temperatures).

Still, rapid immersion in boiling water would be a quick death for a cold blooded animal the size and shape of a lobster.

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March 30th, 2009, 4:32 pm
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Quote:
Paolo
Of course they feel pain, I can't believe that anyone would consider that they couldn't - after all, they have nerves and are able to react to a stimulus. However, the screaming would not be a response to pain, it would be caused by air trapped in the shell rapidly escaping as it heated up in the water. Lobsters don't have lungs and don't communicate vocally, so their expression of pain can not be expected to be the same as ours.
I agree completely, I don't see the need to carry out experiments like the one with the hermit crab, nervous system=ability to feel pain, and I believe you're right about "the scream".
Quote:
Paolo
A more humane way to kill a crab/lobster is to put it in a warm pan of water and bring it to the boil. They are cold-blooded and thus take their heat from the environment, so at 40 degrees their body would begin to stop functioning,
That's interesting, so would what Ken suggested have the same effect?
Quote:
Ken
I haven't heard about pain awareness, but I have heard that if you put a lobster in the freezer it will go into a dormant state which would probably eliminate any awareness when it is thrown into the boiling water.

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March 30th, 2009, 6:28 pm
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Yes, I expect it would - but the pan of water would need to be very big for the temperature to remain high enough to kill the lobster if its body temperature was very low - it would be like putting a giant ice-cube in the pan. The freezer should actually kill the lobster if it's in there for a while - again, it wouldn't even realise it was in trouble before it died.

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March 30th, 2009, 7:29 pm
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Thanks Paolo.
Having given this a bit of thought,
Does the lobster/crab have to be alive when put into the boiling water? or Is this not just a throwback to "biblical times" When it was deemed an "abomination" to eat shellfish because (like pork) it "goes off" so quickly after it's killed? Especially in warm climates.
Couldn't shellfish (like any other animal) be dispatched humanely, and then put in the pot?
I really can't see the need to boil something alive............................Cannibals may disagree :smile:

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March 30th, 2009, 8:41 pm
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Paolo "Of course they feel pain, I can't believe that anyone would consider that they couldn't - after all, they have nerves and are able to react to a stimulus. However, the screaming would not be a response to pain, it would be caused by air trapped in the shell rapidly escaping as it heated up in the water. Lobsters don't have lungs and don't communicate vocally, so their expression of pain can not be expected to be the same as ours."

Paolo says he "can't believe" something which many of us know to be true and commonplace and the basis of Government policy (worldwide) on animal welfare; and the failure to protect animals from unnecessary suffering, as the Prof. tells us:

Professor Bob Elwood “There is no protection for these animals (with the possible exception of certain states in Australia) as the presumption is that they cannot experience pain."

With regard to 'screaming' I learned as a child that this was due to air escaping, as crabs were boiled to death, which is why I did not refer to it in my earlier comments. Some people might think it a symbol of the 'silent scream' they are unable to utter. It raise the question: if fish / crustacea were able to scream would their treatment be any better? One might hope so, but I fear the hope could be in vain. After all, the protests made by pigs has not saved them from the slaughterhouse. It was witnessing the treatment of pigs which finally gave me the impetus to act on the reasoned conclusions I had come to years earlier on the ethical case against eating meat.

Next week's Radio Times has a letter, from someone who used to catch fish to eat, on "the sight on TV of Heston Blumenthal disembowelling living, struggling mackerel, then throwing them into a bucket to die." The letter is headed: "Barbaric entertainment."

Chris

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March 31st, 2009, 2:06 pm
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Paolo wrote:
Of course they feel pain, I can't believe that anyone would consider that they couldn't - after all, they have nerves and are able to react to a stimulus.
I can't believe that you can't believe that anyone would consider that lobsters don't feel pain. As Chris says, it's so commonplace. It was something that I was at least prepared to believe, even though I would never have plunged a live lobster into boiling water. As I understand it, it's not enough to argue that they have nerves and are able to react to a stimulus. There's more to pain than nociception, apparently:
Quote:
Invertebrates, like vertebrates, have the capacity to detect and respond to noxious or averse stimuli. This capability of animals to detect and react to stimuli that may compromise their integrity is termed nociception (Kavaliers 1988, Smith 1991). The ability to avoid dangers is a fundamental adaptation in all animals, without which they would not be able to survive.

In contrast to the conscious experience of pain, nociception is the unconscious detection of transmissions and responses to noxious stimulations by the nervous system. In other words, nociception indicate the sensory aspects of unpleasant sensations resembling our pain, without presuming our subjective reactions and suffering (Mather 2001).

Averse stimuli include changes in temperature beyond the animal’s normal range, contact with noxious chemicals, mechanical interference or electric shock, all of which would have caused pain in humans. In general, invertebrates respond by withdrawing or escaping to reduce the likelihood of being damaged by the noxious conditions. In most vertebrates, special receptors, or nociceptors, are sensitive to noxious or adverse stimuli, and may be able to code the intensity of the stimulus ...

Invertebrates react in different ways to detrimental stimuli (Fiorito 1986). The reactions do not necessarily in itself indicate any experience of pain, but more an activation of the central nervous system to produce avoidance or escape reactions. For example, due to mechanical stress, the spider Argiope sp. may react with leg autotony, and the crab Carcinus mediterraneus with alarm display ...

As pointed out by Sherwin (2001), we may be mistaken in assuming that invertebrates have a reduced capacity to experience suffering. Suffering is a private experience, or a negative mental state that cannot be measured directly. The responses of invertebrates to noxious conditions are often strikingly similar to those of vertebrates. Several experimental studies have shown that invertebrates such as cockroaches, flies and slugs have short and long-term memory, have ability of spatial and social learning, perform appropriately on preference tests, and may exhibit behavioural and physiological responses indicative of pain. The similarity of these responses to those of vertebrates may indicate a level of consciousness or suffering that is normally not attributed to invertebrates ...

With the relatively simple nervous system of earthworms [meitemark] and other annelids, it is very unlikely that they can feel any pain. The wriggling of earthworms on a hook can be considered as reflexes ...

In spite of the violent reactions of lobsters and crabs when put in boiling water, it is assumed that these are reflexes to noxious stimuli. Different kinds of pretreatment before boiling may reduce any possible feeling of stress. There is apparently a paucity of exact knowledge on sentience in crustaceans, and more research is needed. Lobsters and crabs have some capacity of learning, but it is unlikely that they can feel pain.
(from Sentience and Pain in Invertebrates (2005), Lauritz S. Sømme, Report to Norwegian Scientific Committee for Food Safety)

Professor Sømme is an invertebrate zoologist from the University of Oslo. I'd be curious to know his reaction to this latest research from Queen's University. But I note that, despite the headlines, Professor Bob Elwood does not go so far as to conclude that hermit crabs must feel pain, merely that the results are "consistent with the idea of pain being experienced by these animals".

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March 31st, 2009, 4:36 pm
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Chris, why don't you use [quote][/quote] tags? It would make your posts so much easier to read, I'm sure I can't be the only one thinking this.
just asking like.

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March 31st, 2009, 8:08 pm
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I in fact find it 'unnatural' and more difficult to read postings with quoted material separated out in boxes, although I presume others find otherwise. It is just a matter of personal preference. We are all different.

Chris

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April 1st, 2009, 10:19 am
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I don't think its common for shellfish to be put in a freezer, certainly not in a restaurant.

I worked for one seafood restaurant in particular which made us ramble on to our customers about how ethically sourced/farmed/caught our food was. Then in the fridge we had boxes of live crabs and lobsters which, I imagine, were killed in far from ethical ways.

It also didn't take too long for the lobsters etc to look pretty 'awake' and normal again once they came out of the fridge (some would still be active inside) so I'm not sure that being kept in the fridge would have done anything to reduce any pain or awareness either.


April 3rd, 2009, 3:44 pm
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By sheer coincidence I have just started correspondence with a local restaurant which has 'crab' listed as vegetarian. It is not even as if the crabs are the veggies, is it?

Chris

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April 3rd, 2009, 5:22 pm
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clayto wrote:
By sheer coincidence I have just started correspondence with a local restaurant which has 'crab' listed as vegetarian. It is not even as if the crabs are the veggies, is it?

Chris
Well, I'm sure there are still some places that think that tuna is suitable for vegetarians!

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April 3rd, 2009, 7:19 pm
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