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Dead and cold, lobsters 'live' life anew
Updated: 2004-04-01 00:13

CONNECTICUT, United States: Call it cryonics for crustaceans.

A Connecticut company says its frozen lobsters sometimes come back to life when thawed.

Trufresh began freezing lobsters with a technique it used for years on salmon after an offhand suggestion by some workers. It found that some lobsters revived after their subzero sojourns.

Now, Trufresh is looking for partners to begin selling the lobsters commercially. The company was scheduled to attend the International Boston Seafood Show armed with video showing two undead lobsters squirming around after being frozen stiff in a minus-40 degree chemical brine for several minutes.

Company Chairman Barnet L. Liberman acknowledged its lobster testing is limited and only about a dozen of roughly 200 healthy, hard shell lobsters survived their freezing. In addition, the company hasn't researched how long a frozen lobster can survive -- overnight is the longest period so far.

Liberman emphasized the company's goal isn't to provide customers with lobsters that always come back to life. He just wants to supply tasty, fresh lobsters.

But frozen lobster can't be much fresher than "still alive" and Trufresh hasn't hesitates to tout their lobsters' restorative qualities. For instance, the company plans to ship the lobsters with rubber bands on their claws, as a consumer protection measure.

"I wouldn't remove the rubber bands," Liberman said. "It's not worth the risk."

Bonnie Spinazzola of the Atlantic Offshore Lobstermen's Association in New Hampshire has her doubts about Lazarus-like lobsters entering the existing frozen lobster market.

"I've never heard of it and I don't know if I believe it," she said. "It might be a robo-lobster."

Trufresh is based in Suffield, Connecticut, but has salmon operations in Maine. A few years ago, some workers with lobstering experience suggested freezing lobsters the same way they froze their salmon, which are far too dead (and filleted) to ever be revived.

The first time they tried it, Trufresh froze about 30 lobsters and two came back to life, Liberman said. But the company wasn't in the lobster business and never pursued it.

Now, Trufresh is trying to expand its product line as it launches a retail business on the Internet. If it can find partners to catch the lobster and process it, Liberman said Trufresh can be selling them within months.

Robert Bayer of the University of Maine's Lobster Institute said he is intrigued, but dubious. Seafood freezing methods similar to Trufresh's have existed for years, but there have been no reports of revived lobsters, he said.

"I'm guessing I am skeptical about a lobster being brought back to life," Bayer said. "But I'm willing to be shown."

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