Plant Processing

Mussels are sold live and therefore must not beprocess image subjected to stress by rough handling or poor holding conditions. At the plant mussels are always kept cool, covered with ice and held in a cold room      (45° F.) Mussels are then held in holding tanks with flowing Gulf of Maine ocean water until they are processed and shipped. Holding the mussels in tanks with a continuous flow of cold ocean water is called "purging." Here the mussels purge themselves of any impurities by flushing any dirt or mud out from their system.

The processing machinery consists of a stainless steel receiving hopper - conveyor and declumper - grader - washer and inspection belt where small rocks, broken mussels shells and other debris are manually removed - and then the debyssing machine where the beards are removed. Most mussels have what is commonly called a "beard," also known as byssal threads. The beard is comprised of many fibers which emerge from the mussel's shell. It is a tough, stringy growth that keeps the mussel connected to the colony while they are in the water. Removing the beard at the processing plant prepares the mussels for cooking and consumption without extra effort by the end user.

After passing through the debyssing machine, mussels travel onto a long conveyor belt where they are again visually inspected. Mussels with cracked or broken shells are removed manually. The mussels are conveyed on to the packaging machine where they are packed in 2 lb., 5 lb., 10 lb. or 25 lb. polyethylene mesh bags. The bags are then packed in containers (or boxes) depending on the size of the packed bags. The bagged mussels are covered with ice in order to maintain proper temperature and to keep the mussels moist for optimum shelf-life. They are then shipped to customers in refrigerated trucks.