There is a number of mussel farmers who have little knowledge on size grading and grading of mussels in relation to a condition index so that only good mussels with a satisfactory quality and shelf life are forwarded to market.
There is a need to identify the key quality and marketing parameters to prepare product specification for premium and standard grade mussels as a prerequisite for the development of a Code of Practice to guide growers, packers and marketers. This Code needs to cover handling, grading, packing, storage and transport of mussels to maximise quality and safety, shelf life and value of the mussels for industry and consumers benefit. This would reduce the amount of poor quality mussels going to market and thereby help raise overall prices for producers and reduce the wastage experienced today with poor mussels.
Wholesalers, retailers and restaurateurs need reliable information on how they should handle and store mussels to maximise quality and consumer benefit.
The post harvest handling of farmed blue mussels, from the sea farm through to the retail store and restaurant was examined in 2003 in a national study funded by Seafood Services Australia and the Australian mussel farming industry.
The Objectives of the study were to: (a) Identify the key quality and marketing parameters for chilled mussels and prepare product specifications for “premium” and “standard” mussels (b) Develop a Code Of Practice which takes account of product labelling, uniform size grading, shell fouling and cleanliness, condition index and any mandatory food safety requirements for the guidance of all industry sectors and (c) prepare a product Trade Users Guide for wholesalers, retailers and restaurateurs.
The project was designed to reduce the volume of poor quality mussels going to market and thereby help raise overall prices for producers and to reduce the wastage experienced by the industry and consumers with poor quality mussels.
Desk research was also carried out to explore the basis of the advice commonly given by cookery writers to discard mussels which do not open after cooking. This warning has led to the waste of many mussels and generated much confusion amongst many trade users and consumers. Cooking tests were undertaken to examine the validity of this advice and to develop a simple method for assessing the “meat content” or Mussel Condition Index.