PETA Wants White House to Stop Boiling Animals Alive, Use Alternative

Recent Invention Spares Lobsters and Other Animals Painful Death

For Immediate Release:
May 31, 2013

David Perle 202-483-7382 

Washington — PETA is asking White House Executive Chef Cristeta Comerford to use an invention called the Crustastun to stun lobsters, crabs, and other shellfish and kill them within seconds prior to cooking them. As PETA explains in its letter, multiple physiological and behavioral studies have indicated that lobsters feel pain: They possess a central nervous system, and their neurochemical system, used in pain perception, shares many features with that of humans. They likely suffer every second of the three long minutes that it takes for them to die in boiling water. The Crustastun is an easy-to-use device in which the animal is placed in a small saltwater tank and is instantly stunned into unconsciousness by an electrical current with the push of a button. Lobsters die within five seconds and crabs within 10 seconds. 

“Like all animals, shellfish feel pain, and they suffer immensely when they are thrown into a boiling pot and scalded to death,” says PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman. “PETA hopes the White House chef will set an example for chefs across the country by switching to the Crustastun, sparing the hundreds of lobsters killed for White House dinners the agony of being boiled alive.”

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PETA’s letter to White House Executive Chef Cristeta Comerford follows.



May 30, 2013


Cristeta Comerford
Executive Chef
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave. N.W.
Washington, DC 20500



Dear Ms. Comerford,

I am writing to you today on behalf of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and our more than 3 million members and supporters regarding the White House’s serving of lobster, including at prominent events such as state dinners and the recent inaugural luncheon. I wanted to let you know that there is a new device available called the Crustastun that eliminates the questionable practice of boiling lobsters alive, thereby preventing their suffering. We hope that the White House will start using it immediately.

Physiological and behavioral studies of crustaceans have amply demonstrated that lobsters do indeed feel pain. They have been shown to possess considerable learning ability as well as nervous and nociceptive systems, and they share human features of the neurochemical systems used in pain perception, including opioid molecules. It is, therefore, unjustifiable to subject such sentient animals to needlessly painful deaths, such as by boiling them alive, which can take up to three excruciatingly painful minutes before they succumb.

With the Crustastun, lobsters are placed in a saline solution within the machine and in contact with an electrode sponge. The operator simply presses a button, and a strong current passes through the brain centers of the lobster, instantly interrupting the nerve function. As a result, the lobster is rendered insensate. This process takes half a second, and in five seconds, the lobster is dead. The science behind Crustastun and our knowledge of sensitivity in crustaceans is available here.

The Crustastun is now being used by a range of businesses, from Michelin-starred restaurants such as Le Manoir and Locanda Locatelli to Whole Foods Market. We respectfully ask that the White House join them.

I look forward to hearing back from you at your earliest convenience and possibly meeting with you to discuss this topic.

David Byer

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