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Switzerland Just Banned Boiling Lobsters Alive

Lobster fiends in Switzerland are going to have to learn some new techniques for cooking their favorite crustaceans, because the famously socially progressive country just outlawed boiling them alive as part of a sweeping overhaul of its animal protection laws.

Under the new restrictions lobsters will need to be "stunned before they are put to death," according to the government order, which goes into effect March 1. As for what that means, the Swiss public broadcaster RTS reports that only electric shock and "mechanical destruction" of the lobsters' brains will be acceptable methods. 

Animals rights activists have long argued that crustaceans have complex nervous systems and can feel pain, and should thus not be subjected to the torturous death of being boiled or steamed alive -- a popular way of preparing lobsters. Additionally, the order outlines new rules regarding how live lobsters are to be transported. "Live crustaceans, including the lobster, may no longer be transported on ice or in ice water. Aquatic species must always be kept in their natural environment," it reads. The new law is also designed to crack down on things like puppy mills and devices meant to silence barking dogs, according to The Guardian.

To complicate matters, it seems as though the age-old method of piercing lobsters' brains with a knife doesn't adequately "mechanically" destroy them to prevent the creatures from feeling pain. Gizmodo points to the famous David Foster Wallace essay, "Consider The Lobster," in which the author explains that their brains are simply too gangly to disable in one fell cut.

So, just something to be aware of next time you plan to prepare a big surf and turf spread in Zurich.

h/tThe Guardian

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Joe McGauley is a senior writer for Thrillist. Follow him @jwmcgauley.