Lidl supermarket bans sale of live carp outside Czech locations

Live carp won't be sold outside Lidl supermarkets in the Czech Republic this year thanks to efforts from the Christmas without Violence initiative.

Jason Pirodsky

Written by Jason Pirodsky Published on 10.12.2022 15:01:00 (updated on 10.12.2022) Reading time: 2 minutes

Tubs of live carp are a familiar sight throughout the Czech Republic in the days leading up to Christmas, but one local supermarket will not be taking part in the tradition. Lidl has officially banned the sale of live carp outside its premises this year, becoming the first Czech retailer to do so.

The move is a result of the Christmas without Violence campaign, which seeks to end the practice due for ethical and sustainability reasons. The campaign has been running for several years, casting a shadow over a long-running Czech tradition.

"For us, responsible business means offering our customers the highest quality goods and at the same time behaving towards our surroundings in such a way that our activities are sustainable in the long term," Lidl spokesperson Tomáš Myler told Hospodářské noviny.

"This is also why we decided not to allow the sale of carp in front of our stores this year," he adds, noting that customers could still buy packaged carp inside the store from official Lidl suppliers.

"In contrast to the classic [tub] sales, the entire carp processing process is under the supervision of the veterinary administration, with which our supplier is registered, and takes place according to the strictest standards with high demands on quality control and processing for maximum consumer safety and in the most humane way possible towards the fish," Myler later told Aktuálně.cz.

According to an informal survey of other Czech supermarkets, the sale of live carp from tubs outside the stores will continue this year as usual. A Kaufland spokesperson confirmed to Aktuálně that live carp would be sold outside their stores from December 17-27, while a Penny spokesperson added that the sale of live carp was allowed for external partners.

Tubs of carp outside of Eska in 2021. Photo: Jason Pirodsky
Tubs of carp outside of Eska in 2021. Photo: Jason Pirodsky

Albert and Billa supermarkets, meanwhile, distanced themselves from the sale of live carp while noting that the practice may still continue outside its stores.

"If carp are sold in front of our stores, it is because the space is leased to [the vendors] by the owner of the building, which is not Albert," said Jiří Mareček, Albert's director of communications.

While the steps taken by Lidl may ultimately spread to other supermarkets and retailers, the practice of selling (and killing) live carp on streets throughout the Czech Republic is still popular throughout the country.

Live carp sales are governed by rules set by the Czech Republic's State Veterinary Administration, with supervision by Czech Trade Inspection. Clothes worn by the vendors and methods used to kill the carp are both specified.

"The carp cannot be scaled alive, its roe or milt squeezed out, or its eyes or gills damaged," the Veterinary Administration regulations state. They also recommend leaving the carp killing to the vendors, as bringing home a live carp can result in unnecessary stress for the animal.

The Christmas without Violence campaign urges people to make changes to their traditional Czech holiday cuisine, and try some alternatives to carp this year. Meat-free recipes in the style of classic Czech Christmas dishes can be found on the campaign's website.

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