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The United Kingdom is weighing a ban on boiling live lobsters, crabs and other crustaceans amid a push from animal welfare activists to include the invertebrates in legislation that would recognize them as sentient beings.

Legislation currently being weighed in the House of Lords would not only seriously boost animal welfare protections but also require the government to consider animals’ feelings when writing regulations.

Though the legislation currently only includes vertebrates, lawmakers are weighing expanding it to include invertebrates such as lobsters, as well as octopuses and mussels, according to The Times

The legislation comes as the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said it has commissioned a study to examine the creature’s sentience. 

“We’re proud to have some of the highest animal welfare standards in the world, and we are fully committed to strengthening them further to ensure all animals avoid any unnecessary pain, distress or suffering,” the agency said in a statement.

“We have commissioned an independent external review of the available scientific evidence on sentience in decapod crustaceans such as crabs and lobsters, as well as in cephalopods, which includes octopus, cuttlefish and squid — and we will carefully consider the results of this review which will be published in due course.”

Cooking lobster typically involves boiling the creatures alive in excess of 15 minutes, a method long employed to address bacteria but that often leaves the creatures clanking around in the pot. Advocates have argued that first stunning them with an electric device or freezing them is more humane.

Several countries already ban the boiling of lobsters, including New Zealand and Switzerland.

—Updated at 4:27 p.m.

Tags Britain Decapod Edible crustaceans Great Britain lobster Seafood Sentience U.K. United Kingdom

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