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'Dancing shrimp' are off the menu at Sacramento seafood restaurant after PETA raises objections

September 7, 2010 |  8:20 pm

Spot Prawns

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A Sacramento restaurant agreed to stop serving live shrimp after an animal-rights group said the practice was cruel to the shellfish.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals said the restaurant, Nishiki Sushi, suggested squeezing lemon juice on the shrimps' exposed flesh so they would writhe as they were eaten. The dish is commonly referred to as "dancing shrimp" and is considered a delicacy in Japan.

PETA contacted the restaurant after receiving dozens of complaints about the practice.

The animal rights group objected to the practice based on a 2007 study that explored shrimp pain from Queen's University Belfast in Northern Ireland.

The researchers found that prawns acted as if they had an injured paw when acid was dabbed onto an antennae, and the crustaceans also responded to numbing effects of painkillers.

"Because we received so many calls, we contacted Nishiki and told them every animal feels pain, and we have the scientific evidence to back that up," said Amanda Fortino, a campaign coordinator for PETA. "They agreed to not sell the live shrimp anymore, and we really appreciate that."

Restaurant manager Tony Malpartida told The Sacramento Bee that the restaurant had agreed to take live prawns off the menu about two weeks ago, and shrimp sales overall have been unaffected.

"People would normally get excited about them," said Malpartida about the live shrimp. "It's kind of taken the wind out."

The live prawns were bathed in cold sake before the tail was removed and served to customers. The shrimp are now served in a nigiri style, or as sashimi.

RELATED ANIMAL RIGHTS NEWS:
Animal rights activist advocating vegetarianism in a lettuce gown is briefly held in Jordan
PETA to Pope Benedict XVI: Veganize the Vatican

-- Associated Press

Photo: Santa Barbara spot prawns are displayed by a fisherman. Credit: Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times

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