Wednesday, May 17, 2006


Whole Foods Market halted sales of live soft-shell blue crabs in its stores nationwide last week after receiving complaints of animal cruelty. The company said the move was in keeping with its commitment to the ethical treatment of animals. Whole Foods will still sell cleaned and frozen soft-shells.

In the Washington area, the new policy brought complaints from shoppers who want live crabs. "We know that [soft-shell crabs] are a big deal here," said Kevin McDade, the company's seafood coordinator for the mid-Atlantic region. "Some people don't understand why we are doing this."

Because soft-shells are best fresh, most seafood markets kill and clean -- or dress -- them at the fish counter.

For Whole Foods, the sale of other live crustaceans is in question as well. "We're looking at all live creatures, such as lobster and crayfish," said Kate Lowery, a corporate spokeswoman. "We want to be as compassionate as we can be."

-- Walter Nicholls

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