A Maine seafood plant is being accused of lobster cruelty after video emerged of employees "slaughtering and mutilating" live crustaceans and causing them to die "agonizing deaths," animal rights group PETA claimed.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals conducted a five-month investigation at Linda Bean's Maine Lobster in Rockland and said it found that the plant was violating the state's cruelty-to-animals statute.
The video, released Tuesday, shows employees ripping apart the bodies of live lobsters, slamming live crabs face first onto spikes, and forcing their exposed organs to spinning bristles.
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Maine law criminalizes the intentional killing of an animal that does not cause instantaneous death and, unlike other statutes, it does not specifically exempt lobsters and crabs, according to CBS News.
PETA says the seafood plant should be using readily available technology that electrically stuns the animal or induces hydrostatic pressure before they're dismembered.
"There's no excuse for the blatant and, we would argue illegal, cruelty going on at this slaughterhouse when there are alternate slaughter methods that rapidly stun and kill these animals," Dan Paden, an evidence analysis manager at PETA, told CBS.
A representative from Bean's Main Lobster could not be reached for comment.
The case again raises the age-old question: Can crustaceans feel pain?
Studies offer contradicting evidence. Some claim that lobsters and crabs don't experience pain because they have simple nervous systems with far fewer neurons than their vertebrate counterparts.
But others argue that they do, in fact, feel pain. A study released last month by researchers at Queen's University Belfast focused on the avoidance behaviors of shore crabs. The experiment offered the animals two different shelters — one that gave them an electric shock and one that didn’t. The crabs that were shocked once were far more likely to choose the other shelter in the next trial.
: This video contains strong language and images.
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