September 2, 2010
Nishiki Sushi removes live prawns following PETA pressure

By Chris Macias

Nishiki Sushi has decided to spare its prawns. After being contacted by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), the midtown sushi restaurant has removed live prawns from its menu.

"We were informed that it was unacceptable as far as animal cruelty," said Tony Malpartida, a bartender and manager at Nishiki.

According to Amanda Fortino, a campaign coordinator for PETA, dozens of calls were received by PETA about Nishiki's live prawns. The prawns were bathed in cold sake before their tails were removed. They were then served live and still moving.

"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 Fortino. "They agreed to not sell the live shrimp anymore, and we really appreciate that."

PETA bases its stance on a 2007 study from Queen's University Belfast in northern Ireland. The research 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.

"(Nishiki) was kind of promoting (customers) to squeeze lemon juice on their exposed flesh so they would writhe or 'dance' while being eaten alive," said Fortino.

The writhing prawns were removed from Nishiki's menu about two weeks ago, and overall shrimp sales have been unaffected, said Malpartida. The shrimp are now served in a nigiri style or as sashimi.

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

Seafood restaurants need a saltwater tank for live shrimp, which few local sushi spots have. No other Sacramento restaurants are being told to stop this practice of serving live shrimp, said Fortino.

Call The Bee's Chris Macias, (916) 321-1253.

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