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Live “Dancing” Shrimp Pulled from Menu

Live “Dancing” Shrimp Pulled from Menu

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!

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Flickr: Laurel Fan

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2:49PM PST on Feb 9, 2011

of course whales and other fish eat shrimp and other smaller alive

do you expect them to carry around with them a stove top to cook them?

Nature is nature and no way to educate the whales or prop them up with books. is there?? how silly. But humans are supposed to have a heart and be civilaized and not do those things but do we?

9:48AM PST on Feb 5, 2011

Jane R. : Africa is NOT a country. It's a continent. And what remote human flesh eating tribes are you talking about? You have any empiric proof to their existance?

4:28PM PST on Dec 15, 2010

Thanks for the sympathy for shrimp, they are often forgotten

6:07PM PST on Nov 27, 2010

Poor things! The restaurant did the right thing!

9:58AM PDT on Oct 8, 2010

Thanks to the restaurant.

6:56PM PDT on Sep 25, 2010

This is so discusting. What is wrong with people? They will torture and eat anything. Maybe we should send them to Africa, where remote tribes still eat human flesh. See if they would like to be tortured & eaten.

3:47PM PDT on Sep 24, 2010

At least the restaurant owner did the right thing.

10:19AM PDT on Sep 22, 2010


7:54PM PDT on Sep 20, 2010

Many people think of fishing as a bucolic and harmless pastime, but on's actually a horrible form of torture, even if you throw the fish back!

Yes, fish and shrimp are more primitive than humans, but they still have nervous systems.
My first awareness of animal rights was when I witnessed a lobster being boiled alive as a child. I thought it was inconceivably horrible, but the adults around me assured me it was normal and didn't suffer. It took me nearly 30 years of meat-eating, fishing, and then thinking very carefully, before I realized that childish first impression was in fact correct. Ever read 'The Yearling'? The conclusion it teaches is totally wrong. The hunting/fishing community brainwashes kids into thinking animal murder is OK.

5:43PM PDT on Sep 19, 2010

It's not about just eating "dancing shrimp"; it's about being conscious and responsible for the amount of shrimp (or meat in general) that we (as humans) do consume. As described in this article in the way shrimps r killed - they are all inhumanly killed whether served as "dancing shrimp" or eventually hacked to death. I would encourage everyone to reduce in the amount of meat products we eat - and I wouldn't be saying this if I weren't doing so myself. Cheers.

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