Makro under fire for selling live lobsters to be boiled alive | Viva!

Makro under fire for selling live lobsters to be boiled alive

Release date: 
Wednesday, May 23, 2012

WHOLESALE group Makro have come under fire from animal welfare campaigners for selling live lobsters and crabs in several outlets across the UK.

Leading animal campaigning groups, Viva! and Animal Aid have joined forces to demand the company drop the practice immediately – because of the extreme distress and suffering that could be caused to the animals – who are kept crammed into tanks to be taken home and sometimes boiled alive.

Both groups are accusing Makro of washing their hands of the welfare of these live animals once they have left the stores.

Makro stores across the UK* are currently stocking live Canadian lobsters** and crabs for customers to take away and kill without any guidance or training.

Live lobsters were filmed at four stores. A Viva! undercover investigator was told that the animals could be taken away live in a box or even a carrier bag, but was not given advice on their welfare once they had left the store. When asked the most humane way to kill them, one store told her just to throw them into a pot of boiling water – and to add salt and pepper to improve the taste. At another, she was told she should just look up on the internet how to kill them.

These sales have emerged despite Makro vowing not to sell live lobsters following a previous campaign in 2003 by Animal Aid***.

Scientific evidence has shown lobsters are capable of feeling pain. When put in boiling water, they react wildly, whipping their tales and trying to escape. Death can take anything from 15 seconds to seven 

Viva! founder and zoologist, Juliet Gellatley, says: “It is unbelievable that Makro are selling live lobsters for people to take home and kill themselves – subjecting the animals to extreme pain, suffering and a slow death by being boiled alive.

“Viva! are deeply concerned that this practice may spread to all stores and to other retailers. Lobsters are highly intelligent creatures, who are very much capable of feeling pain. We call on Makro to adopt stop selling live lobsters immediately and vow never to re-introduce the practice again, when they think people have forgotten about the issue.”

Kate Fowler, head of campaigns at Animal Aid says: “Ten years ago, Makro responded to public opinion by stopping its trade in live animals. It has since justified its reversal of policy by claiming that a one-hour course for staff is sufficient to educate them how to care for the animals in store. We know that for such complex creatures this is wholly insufficient. It is also obvious that Makro can never know how those animals are treated once they have left the store. If Makro wants to be seen as an ethical retailer, there is only one course of action available to it: stop the trade immediately."

ENDS information: 

A short film showing lobsters at Makro stores and the advice of staff on how to kill them can be seen here

Lobsters have no legal protection at slaughter in the UK. Both groups want to see a change in the law.

* Live lobsters in Makro stores were filmed in April 2012 in Bristol, Poole, Bournemouth and Birmingham.

** Newsletter from Makro, featuring information about sale of live lobsters 

*** 2003 Animal Aid campaign ends previous sale 

For more information on the campaign visit and 

For more information about this media release, contact Viva! press officer Helen Rossiter on 0117 944 1000 or by emailing, or Kate Fowler at Animal Aid on 01732 364 546 or by emailing

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