Grim video has surfaced in China of a still-sentient crab clawing its way towards floating pieces of food as its boiled alive in a pool of oil.
It’s video that could reignite the debate about how we treat crustaceans, which are often handled in a worse way than mammals would because of a widely held assumption that they cannot feel pain.
The latest stomach-churning clip surfaced via China Global Television Network (CGTN), shows a small crab flailing in a deep pan of oil.
It repeatedly reaches out towards floating pieces of leek and chilli, and at one point seems to be grabbing them and putting them into its mouth.
The clip has little context, but is known to have been filmed in the city of Changsha, in the Yunan Province late last month.
The TV channel itself posted the video with no acknowledgement of the apparent cruelty of cooking the creature alive.
A caption read: “A rare video shows a live crab that is eating the ingredients while it is cooked in a pan. The video shows a live crab clawing the ingredients and munching them while the pan was heating.”
One commenter on YouTube wrote: “Chinese media still have a long way to go. Due to the culture difference, there is a clear difference in the understanding of animal cruelty.
“But to be a legitimate news organization on YouTube, CGTN should learn and understand the differences and know which line to cross and which should not.”
Another wrote: “So cruel. If you want to eat an animal, please kill it suddenly.
“Kindly stop these cruel and slow ways of killing a creature.”
Crabs have reflexes to things like pinpricks, but it has been unclear whether they feel anything like we’d regard as pain.
But a study published in the Journal of Experimental Biology in 2013 found that not only do they experience something resembling pain, they also have the ability to remember it.
Nonetheless, even in UK law there is no protection for crabs under animal cruelty laws.
Two years ago a Korean supermarket in London sold crabs which were vacuum packed alive ‘for freshness’, and inspectors found they had not broken the law.