A Sacramento, Calif., restaurant — Nishiki Sushi — recently agreed to remove live shrimp from their menu. PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) received dozens of complaints from the restaurant’s patrons about the practice of spraying lemon juice on the exposed flesh to make the live shrimp “dance” before consuming them.
In response, PETA contacted the restaurant’s manager, Tony Malpartida, and presented him with a 2007 study from Queen’s University Belfast in Ireland that shows shrimp do indeed feel pain. Malpartida agreed to take live shrimp off the menu, according to the Sacramento Bee.
Apparently, eating live shrimp is considered a delicacy in Japan. Many people don’t think of seafood as animal flesh — but it is. Even the tiniest shrimp in the ocean is still a living being. And it can most certainly feel pain, which is why lemon juice splashed on exposed shrimp flesh will cause it to writhe — what the restaurants call “dancing shrimp.”
Prawns and shrimp are biologically identified as crustaceans, along with crabs, lobsters, crayfish, krill and barnacles. To compare a crustacean with a mammal, both:
- Are born from reproductive process between opposite genders
- Have a circulatory system with a heart that pumps blood throughout the body
- Posses a gastric system that enables nutrients to be broken down and an anus for expelling the unused waste products
- Have a central nervous system including a brain that enables recognition of painful stimuli
The food industry generally recommends shrimp be purchased alive because dead crustaceans spoil very quickly.
But have you ever wondered how the shrimp on your plate is killed before being served?
Accepted standards require freezing crustaceans for around 15 minutes to stun them before hacking their body in two with a knife and tossing them into a pot of boiling salt water. The 15 minutes of freezing doesn’t kill them; it simply makes them less able to wriggle and squirm on the cutting board.
Does that sound humane to you?
Humans have an innate ability to justify their actions, good or bad. On the PETA site Fishing Hurts, Michael Fox, D.V.M, Ph.D., is quoted:
“Even though fish don’t scream [audibly to humans] when they are in pain and anguish, their behavior should be evidence enough of their suffering when they are hooked or netted. They struggle, endeavoring to escape and, by so doing, demonstrate they have a will to survive.”
The next time you go to a restaurant and are tempted to order that shrimp dish — make sure the shrimp can’t dance!
Flickr: Laurel Fan