A Korean supermarket has caused upset among shoppers for packaging moving crabs in cling film and selling them while still alive.

Korea Foods imports live crabs daily to its main warehouse in Wyvern Industrial Estate, New Malden, and sells them on in the adjoining supermarket.

The crabs are packaged on a polystyrene plate, wrapped in cling film, and then placed in fridges for customers to buy. The crabs can often still be seen moving. 

An online post started in protest, said the packaging was “truly horrific” and another called it a “disgraceful practice”.

But a spokesman for Korea Foods has defended the store’s packaged live crabs by stating “some English people might be sensitive”.

He added: “We have been running the shop for 10 years and we have never received a complaint like this.

“Our shop is for international food. We sell the live crabs because the customer likes it. We try to sell the crabs fresh, that is our main concern.”

Environmental health officers from neighbouring Merton Council visited the shop this week after being alerted to the plight of the crabs.

Merton Councillor Judy Saunders, cabinet member for environmental cleanliness, said: “We do not have powers to enforce on animal welfare, but will be referring the matter to the RSPCA for it to take the appropriate action.”

Cheryl Willis, of Leatherhead Road, Chessington said: “It’s like keeping a cow in a really small cage until you sell it to kill it and eat. If they’re going to sell it and it’s still alive it should be in an open space.

“It would be different if they were in a big tank, but the fact that they’re wrapping them and then selling them, it just feels wrong.”

Surrey Comet:

Korea Foods has defended packaging the crabs live

A spokewoman for the RSPCA said the 2006 Animal Welfare Act did not apply to crabs, but it still opposed cruel methods of catching, selling and killing the animals.

She added: “Crustaceans should not be held out of water for extended periods of time and should always have an adequate supply of aerated water, which should be as cool as possible.

“Whichever way these animals are killed for human consumption, it must be done by trained, competent operatives, in order to avoid causing suffering to the animals.”

Korea Foods opened in 1999 and now has a chain of mini supermarkets across the UK, including two in New Malden High Street.

Yesterday Korea Foods confirmed it had been visited by council officers and taken the decision no longer to wrap its live crabs in cling film.