Italian Supreme Court: keeping live lobsters on ice in a restaurant is mistreatment


The Italian Supreme Court sentences a restaurant to a 5,000EUR fine for keeping lobster on ice. The high court confirms that crustaceans are sentient beings capable of experiencing pain if they are mistreated.

The Italian Supreme Court states that lobster feel pain if they are kept on ice before being taken to a kitchen, particularly if their claws are tied. Those that follow this practice are considered to be mistreating the animal, as per Article 727 of the Italian criminal code. Because of this, the Supreme Court sanctioned the Campi Bisenzio restaurant in Florence to a 5,000EUR fine, in addition to paying compensation damages to the LAV  (Antivivisection League).  

The high court maintains that it is one thing to cook the animals when they are still alive, something that constitutes a “habitual social practice”, however it is another to keep them in a way that causes “suffering from being kept on ice and tied up” before being cooked […]. The owner of the restaurant defended himself by explaining that the crustaceans arrived from America in boxes of ice with their claws tied, and he therefore provided the same conditions until they were cooked. The Supreme Court stated that this claim was inadmissible due to various pieces of research in recent years, which have resulted in a part of the scientific community taking the view that these animals are capable of experiencing pain as sentient beings. The Supreme Court proposes alternative methods of keeping lobster before they are cooked, such as aquariums with an adequate temperature and level of oxygen, a system that is used in both supermarkets and by leading restaurants.  

In short, from this point forward, many Italian restaurants will have stop using methods which preserve lobster and other crustaceans on ice, because this causes the animals to suffer. 

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15.06.2017 – EU Court of Justice rules that terms “milk”, “butter”, “cream” and “yoghurt” can no longer be used to describe Plant-Based alternatives to dairy products

FOUR PAWS dismayed by the decision which goes against common sense

On June 14th 2017, the EU Court of Justice of the European Union decided (1) that using names commonly associated with dairy products to describe plant-based alternatives such as “soya-butter”, “rice-cream” or “soya-milk”, can lead to confusion among consumers and should therefore be considered contrary to EU legislation.

The original legal complaint was issued by German competition association Verband Sozialer Wettbewerb (VSW), against Tofutown, a vegan company. In particular, VSW used EU Regulation 1308/2013, which defines the characteristics and the terms that may be used within the EU for marketing a product, to support their case that terms such as “butter”, “cream” or “milk” should only be used in relation to dairy products.

However, Tofutown argued that the terms could not mislead the consumers, as they were always associated to other words, referring to plant-based origin products (such as soya-milk or rice-cream). The Court based its decision on the annexes of the EU Regulation No 1308/2013, in which milk is defined: “an animal product”, designating “exclusively the normal mammary secretion obtained from one or more milkings without either addition thereto or extraction therefrom”.

Pierre Sultana, Director of the FOUR PAWS’ European Policy Office commented on the decision: “The Commission has already set up exceptions to the use of terms such as “milk” or “butter”, in a separate Regulation (2). What justification is there for allowing the use of words for products such as “Ice-cream”, “nut butter” or “fruit cheese” containing no dairy products, but not for Soya-milk?

This regulation implemented by the court, is clearly financially and economically driven, because plant-based products alternative to milk products, have been on the market for many years,” said Sonja Svensek, Head of Nutrition in FOUR PAWS International’s Farm Animals & Nutrition department. “Since these products are made and produced to look and taste like their animal derived counterparts, they should be allowed to be marketed according to similar selling principles”.

This ruling has immediate effect and all companies manufacturing vegan products must comply to it, forcing them to rename their products as soon as possible. The only solution would be for the Member States to update these Plant-Based alternatives to dairy products in the derogation list of the regulation (2).


(1) Case C‑422/16, Case C‑422/16, Verband Sozialer Wettbewerb eV v GmbH, 14.06.2017

(2) Annex I to Commission Decision 2010/791/EU of 20 December 2010 listing the products referred to in the second subparagraph of point III(1) of Annex XII to Council Regulation (EC) No 1234/2007



06.06.2017 – Kick-off meeting of the EU Platform on Animal Welfare by the EU Commission

FOUR PAWS is looking forward to exchange of shared best practices and the work to come, but reminds the EU Commission that they should take action too.

The international animal welfare organisation FOUR PAWS welcomes the first meeting of the EU Platform on Animal Welfare, which gathered 75 representatives from NGOs, farmers’ organisations, scientists, EU Member States and other European countries (Switzerland, Iceland), international organisations such as FAO, OIE, and World Bank, and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).

Read our Press Release here

To review the web stream of the meeting: 
EU Platform on Animal Welfare

More information on the platform:


06.06.2017 – Diana Plange becomes Berlin’s official Animal Welfare commissioner of Berlin

As of June 12, 2017, Diana Plange becomes Berlin's official Animal Welfare commissioner of Berlin. She follows the former animal welfare officer Prof. Horst Spielmann, who held a volunteer function.

Mrs. Plange will be part of a small unit of the Senator for Justice, Consumer Protection and Antidiscrimination, with an own office and assistant. The government of the city state of Berlin is red-red-green. Half of German Länders, have now an Animal Welfare officer.

Mrs Plange has reached, as former expert veterinary for animal welfare, some important court decisions, such as breeding companion animals with defects (Qualzucht) and lobster transport and keeping. She was in many of our events in Berlin and in Germany. She worked a great deal in the last years against dealers of puppies (Berlin is also near the border to eastern EU countries).

The Press Release is available here

Information on other animal welfare German officers is available here


06.06.2017 – Scotland to ban wild animals in circuses

On May 10th, the Scottish Government introduced a bill, based on ethical grounds, prohibiting the use of wild animals in traveling shows. A public consultation in 2014, revealed that a prevalent majority of 98% supported the idea of excluding wild animals in travelling circuses.
You can follow the bill’s progress here
Read more here



6.06.2017 – FOUR PAWS first meeting at the EU Platform on Animal Welfare

On 6 June 2017, the EU Platform on Animal Welfare Inaugural Meeting will take place in Brussels.

The Platform brings together 75 member organisations both from the public and private sector and relevant international intergovernmental organisations and has selected a total of 40 members from academia, industry and NGOs, among which FOUR PAWS is part of and will be represented by our expert Adolfo Sansolini.

The discussions will focus on the priorities set by the Commission on animal welfare and will be based on shared views by the members on the prospect of future EU actions related to animal welfare.

The following points will be discussed:

  • ‘How can the Platform contribute to better application and understanding of EU legislation on animal welfare?’ (Enforcement)
  • ‘How the Platform can contribute to promote EU animal welfare standards globally?’ (animal welfare and trade).
  • ‘Examples on how the Platform can facilitate the use of voluntary commitments and promote market value of animal welfare friendly products.’ (including animal welfare labelling).

The draft agenda is available here

The meeting can be followed live.



24.05.2017 – Minimum standards for the protection of farm rabbits – Follow up to the European Parliament resolution of 14 March 2017

During 2017 information gathered on health and welfare of farmed domestic rabbits will be published in 2018 in an overview report in 2018. The report aims at understanding the rabbit production sector, identify good practices relating to the health, welfare and housing of rabbits reared for meat production. Further information is available here.