Maine Lobster Processor Loses Boston Business over PETA video

Cooked lobsters fill a chest during a private party catered by Ipswich Clambakes inc.at the Coast Guard Life Saving Station in Nahant. Josh Reynolds for The Boston Globe (NoWk, Brown)
Cooked lobsters filled a chest during a private party catered by Ipswich Clambakes Inc. at the Coast Guard Life Saving Station in Nahant.
JOSH REYNOLDS/ GLOBE

A food service company that oversees concessions at Boston’s TD Garden has stopped buying lobster from Linda Bean’s Maine Lobster after People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) released secret video footage of the processor’s treatment of lobsters and other crustaceans.

The Portland Press Herald reports that New York-based Delaware North Companies Sportservice made the decision after viewing the animal rights group’s video, which showed “live lobsters being ripped a part by hand.”

Wendy Watkins, vice president of corporate communications for Delaware North Companies, told the Press Herald in an email:

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“Delaware North has a longstanding commitment to sustainable and responsible practices in food purchasing, and we do our best to maintain very high standards with our vendors.”

Linda Bean’s is located in Rockland. Bean is the granddaughter of outdoor retailer L.L. Bean and she has made serious waves in Maine’s lobster industry, spending millions to buy wharves, buying stations, and, of course, the processing plant that has since come under fire.

Stephen Hayes, Bean’s attorney, told the Press Herald in an email that “lobsters are not ‘sentient creatures,’” (meaning they can’t feel things) when the video first surfaced.

But new research by scientist Robert Elwood suggests that lobsters and other invertebrates do feel some pain. The Washington Post reports that Elwood did experiments with brief applications of electric shocks, light, and acid, and found that the invertebrates responded with “complex, prolonged movements” that “clearly involved the central nervous system.” In short, a hermit crab methodically rubbing the spot where it has just been electric shocked is probably not just a reflex.

PETA told The Press Herald that there were humane ways to kill lobsters. They suggest “stunning them, which kills any nerves and any ability to feel pain” or “high-pressure processing,” which kills and cooks lobsters in seconds.

The following video was taken by a PETA investigator who worked at Linda Bean’s.

WARNING (Content may be graphic to some viewers):

Linda Bean could not immediately be reached for comment. Neither could the lobsters.