A Michelin star chef and restaurant owner in Murcott has expressed support for proposed animal welfare legislation which would recognise that crabs and lobsters can feel pain.

Peers in the House of Lords put forward amendments to the Animal Welfare (Sentience) Bill to recognise that crabs and lobsters can feel pain.

The move could see these animals given new legal protections, where restaurants and fishmongers could be banned from boiling crabs and lobsters alive or sending live lobsters through the post.

Mike North, the Chef Owner of the Nut Tree Inn, said their business does not use these methods and a ban should not be “an issue to any chef at all, it is just not necessary”.

He said: “For us it is all about the quality and to get the highest quality you need the highest levels of welfare.

“With all shellfish they are obviously best when they come in alive but it is how they are dealt with, for me that is the important thing.

“If you treat them badly it stresses the animal and the quality just isn’t what it should be, let alone the human aspect of it which is also very important to us.”

The bill was introduced by the Government in May as part of a raft of animal welfare reforms. It replaces EU legislation, which legally recognised that animals can feel pain and experience emotions. The UK Animal Sentience Bill currently only applies to “vertebrate” animals – animals with a backbone.

However, animal welfare organisation Crustacean Compassion does not believe the bill goes far enough and decapod crustaceans – the group which includes crabs and lobsters – can feel pain and suffer and should be included in animal welfare legislation.


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Mr North said: “I think there should be respect shown across the board, any living thing needs to be treated with the utmost respect.

“For us whenever we are using a product we are looking to find the most humane way of using that animal and not something that could potentially cause any suffering.”

The Nut Tree Inn’s preferred method is to pack the lobsters into ice to drop their temperature down as far as possible. This makes them very docile, putting them to sleep before a knife is pushed through the top of the head.

Mr North said: “It is very, very quick as opposed to boiling them where you do run the risk of them taking time to die.”

The Nut Tree Inn has held its Michelin star since 2008.