“Bumping caviar” increasingly popular without concern for animal cruelty

The Times reports, today, that ‘bumping caviar’ as it’s called is becoming increasingly popular and has been ‘democratised’. What they mean is that eating caviar in this way is no longer for the rich but for anybody. And this democratisation of eating caviar is thanks to the social media website TikTok. Sales are booming with more Britons than ever expected to bump the stuff.

Bumping caviar
Image: MikeB. Background image deemed to be in the public domain. Wrong? Please tell me.

What does it mean? It means putting 7 g of caviar on the back of your hand and licking it off. That’s bumping caviar. So not much is eaten which is useful because 125 g of Beluga caviar can cost up to £1100.

Despite the cost, the fad or trend of bumping caviar is growing rapidly and 360 Research Reports predicts that the market will grow by a further 40% by 2027.

The trend began, as mentioned, on TikTok last year. Influencers posted videos of themselves bumping caviar. This spread to their followers. And then tens of thousands of further videos have since been posted showing caviar being bumped.

This led to celebrities picking up on the fad with the likes of American pop star Taylor Swift and the British actress Sophie Turner bumping caviar at New York’s Temple Bar in September.

Global caviar sales are up 74% since 2020. Selfridge’s in London reports that sales are up 15% this month alone. There is growing interest from young customers thanks to social media.

Animal cruelty

The website One Green Planet tells us that the extraction of caviar is unethical, unsustainable and cruel. People don’t mind it seems.

Here are some of their words on the topic:

Eating and buying caviar promotes the exploitation of sturgeon and supports a disturbing industry that profits off dissecting eggs out of sentient beings…The methods of egg extraction are wildly inhumane. There are three main methods of egg extraction in sturgeon. While only one involves killing the animal, they are all equally bizarre and objectively inhumane.

C-section

The farmers might extract the caviar performing a C-section which means cutting into the female sturgeon to surgically remove the eggs from her body. She is then sewn up and tossed back into the farming pools to recover. The operation is performed again later when she has produced more eggs. This puts the fish at the risk of infections which can be fatal. It can damage her ovaries.

Inducing labor

Sturgeon are given a protein to induce labor. The eggs are then massaged out of them. The farmers are happy because it allows them to “reuse the same fish to harvest roe multiple times during their expected 60–120-year lifetime. Yes, sturgeon live a very long life.

Killing them

This is the original way of obtaining eggs from a sturgeon. The fish is usually raised to around 10 years of age before they are killed for their eggs. Bearing in mind that the fish can live to up to 120 years this is cruel.

Protected

Sturgeon are listed as “Most Threatened” by the IUCN Red List.

Caviar isn’t good for you

Caviar is high in cholesterol, salt and calories. Salt raises blood pressure. Cholesterol is bad for the heart and the circulatory system. There are many products on the market to try and reduce cholesterol even drugs such as statins.

Wild sturgeon

Traditionally caviar was taken from wild sturgeon which led to overfishing and a decline in sturgeon populations worldwide. There’s been a trend towards sturgeon farming.

Some farms have been criticised for keeping the fish in crowded conditions and using poor water quality and providing inadequate nutrition. This can result in stress, disease and poor welfare for the animals.

Some farmers have tried to improve sturgeon farming husbandry such as providing larger tanks and improving water quality.

Personal viewpoint

Of course, it depends upon your personal viewpoint as to whether you think sturgeon farming and the production of caviar causes animal cruelty. Animal advocates like me would argue that it does but the farmers would have an entirely different point of view. And of course, some farmers may be doing things in a very ethical way. Notwithstanding that I think it is hard to argue that caviar farming is ethical and that there isn’t at least some underlying animal cruelty present.

Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Speciesism - 'them and us' | Cruelty - always shameful Note: I will donate 10 cents to an animal charity for every comment made over the next three months on pages where comments can be made.
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Post Category: Marine wildlife > fish > sturgeon