An influential animal welfare group has denounced Delhaize over its "barbaric" sale of live lobsters, Belga News Agency has reported.
On Tuesday, Belgian-Dutch activist group Animal Rights published photos taken inside one of the supermarket chain's stores in Asse, Flemish Brabant, which appeared to show live lobsters being sold in dry plastic containers on New Year's Eve. According to Animal Rights, many of the lobsters remained stuck, unsold, inside the same plastic containers two days later.
"Animal Rights finds it barbaric that such horrific scenes take place in our country in 2023," said Animal Rights Campaign Coordinator Els Van Campenhout. "We ask Delhaize to immediately stop selling live lobsters. In addition, we ask Flemish Minister for Animal Welfare [Ben] Weyts to completely ban the sale of live crustaceans."
On their website, the Netherlands and Belgium-based group explained that the reason why lobsters are typically sold alive is because bacteria tend to spread rapidly inside them once they are dead, which, in turn, can cause consumers to become sick.
The group also pointed out that, given that lobsters are usually not fed at all after being caught (to prevent them from excreting any faeces) and are typically exposed to intense light in supermarket stores (despite shunning bright light in their natural habitats), selling live lobsters to shoppers is liable to cause the crustaceans immense suffering.
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Indeed, it is precisely for these reasons that, in many countries — including in Switzerland, Austria, and New Zealand— cooking lobsters alive and/or without anaesthesia is prohibited.
"Once the lobsters are bought and end up in people's homes, people basically do whatever they want with them," Animal Rights said. "If the lobsters are thrown alive into boiling water or cut in half alive, this basically amounts to torture until when the animals die. It is outrageous to lock up living beings in plastic packaging and be able to kill the animals at home without any supervision."
In its response, a spokesman for Delhaize claimed that the company obeys all laws pertaining to animal welfare and that its lobsters are maintained and sold "in the most optimal conditions". The spokesman added that Delhaize currently has no plans to stop selling live lobsters.