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Blue Mussel Cleaning and Processing

After landing, the containers are placed on a ramp for shell cleaning. Pumped seawater from a close-by source is purified with filters and UV light before being pumped into the containers to secure highest wholesomeness and quality. The containers are flushed with the purified water continuously until the water is clear and all mussels are clean from traces of algae. Constant monitoring of algae is a necessity since algae at certain seasons is poisonous and unfit for consumption.

Once the mussels have cleaned themselves the containers are brought to the factory building, where they are emptied and processing of the shells starts. First, the mussels are sorted by size. Undersized mussels are collected and returned to breeding grounds until they reach marketappropriate size. Market-ready shells undergo an intensive comb treatment until all hair and other particles are removed and only the grooves on the outer shell are visible. After the treatment the mussels reach a sale-ready state as fresh product. Here, the mussels could be packed as shell-on product if the buyer requests it. Such packaging could include i.e. net bags or airtight plastic wrap.

Blue mussels intended for further processing continue with a heat treatment that opens and debugs the mussels. Thereafter the mussels bathe in a salt solution that separates the shell from the muscle. The shell sinks to the bottom while the flesh floats in the brine on top. The brine stream ends on a conveyor belt that transports the mussels to the processing hall. There the mussels are cleaned, sorted, frozen, and packed according to wishes of the buyer. The fully packed product is stored in a refrigeration unit until
dispatch. It is estimated that the processing plant would need to be able to handle 125 tonnes per day when the operation is in full swing.

A high standard of quality control is indispensable for a hygienic manufactured food product. For that reason, a well-equipped laboratory as part of the plant is absolutely necessary. Its double control system is supposed to constantly monitor both the algae and bacteria content inside the plant. Mussels are a very sensitive food. Undesirable bacteria can multiply and spread very quickly once they encounter ideal living conditions.

The mussel shell and other hard waste are ground down to fine sand particles. Approximately 30-40 tonnes of such sand is estimated per year. Co-operation with representatives from EROCA in regards to appropriate waste handling has been established. EROCA is a co-operative whose role is to monitor changes in the pH-value of seawater in the Arctic Ocean; participants in the group include the Icelandic Marine Research Institute and the University of Bergen. EROCA considers the use of calcium rich mussel processing waste as a tool to counteract the rise in ocean acidity;the dialogue and co-operation continues.

The project in its current state has reached a level where the factory setup and layout must be drafted and its technical plans are being drawn. Highest efficiency is reached when the vessel lands directly at the processing plant. Picture 3 shows an example sketch of processing facilities (as viewed from possible location Langeyri ├ülftafj├Âr├░ur).