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I live in Toronto, Canada. I buy my mussels from Diana's Seafood or Loblaws.

  1. I wonder if the quote beneath from Mussel Myths & FAQs - The Cornish Mussel Shack holds true for Canada too?

    Do I need to soak my mussels in water and oatmeal?
    No. This used to be done to help purge the mussel of any grit. All commercially sold mussels legally have to be purged and purified in UV filtered water for 42 hours. During this time most of the grit and sediment is released from the mussel.

    Do I need to soak the mussels and throw away the ones that float?
    Salt water mussels should never be soaked in fresh water as this will kill them, and as explained in the above answer there is no longer any need to soak mussels. This was done in the past to identify dead mussels. People thought that a floating mussel was a dead mussel, which is also is not true. A live mussel can often trap an air bubble when it snaps shut, and this is why some mussels float. To identify dead mussels see our page on preparing mussels safely.

  2. How to Clean and Debeard Mussels | Serious Eats says something similar, but nothing about the law.

    As an added bonus, most farm-raised mussels are grown on vertical rope farms, which means that they come to market quite clean—wild mussels can house a good amount of debris from the seabed or rock walls they grew on. On top of that, farm-raised mussels are held in tanks prior to packaging and shipping, which means that the purging step—soaking the mussels in clean water until they spit out impurities—has already been done for you.

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    I'm not sure I see a real question here, are you just asking if there's a regulation or not? Have you googled "Canada shellfish regulations" and done any research?
    – GdD
    Jul 8, 2019 at 8:02

2 Answers 2

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From the regulatory standpoint, I don't see any such regulations in the inspection guidelines, not even the 42 hour UV treatment...that isn't to say they're wrong, but I can't in particular find where that figure came from.

Here's some additional resources if you wish to look further into CFIA regulations on bivalve molluscan shellfish:

Note that the above are archived versions, and the full and current code text can be found here:

Safe Food for Canadians Regulations

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In regards to the first of the two questions you asked, " [does] the quote beneath from Mussel Myths & FAQs - The Cornish Mussel Shack holds true for Canada too?"

Do I need to soak my mussels in water and oatmeal? No. This used to be done to help purge the mussel of any grit. All commercially sold mussels legally have to be purged and purified in UV filtered water for 42 hours. During this time most of the grit and sediment is released from the mussel.

Do I need to soak the mussels and throw away the ones that float? Salt water mussels should never be soaked in fresh water as this will kill them, and as explained in the above answer there is no longer any need to soak mussels. This was done in the past to identify dead mussels. People thought that a floating mussel was a dead mussel, which is also is not true. A live mussel can often trap an air bubble when it snaps shut, and this is why some mussels float. To identify dead mussels see our page on preparing mussels safely.

Yes, it does to a point; but not in regards to food safety - just taste. In my experience (I live in Alberta), you should still follow those guidelines simply from a taste perspective because while generally cleaned and soaked prior to commercial sale no process is perfect at any level (think "pre-washed lettuce" found at Loblaws as well). I have found rinsing them as you listed helps with the taste. I do this with both the store bought mussels I cook, as well as the freshwater clams I catch (not quite the same process but very similar).

Now, onto question two - I know in Toronto there will be a local fish market or seafood market that specializes in shellfish, call them. They will be happy to assist you in understanding the regulations as it pertains to the consumption of all kinds of seafood as some regulations also vary from province to province.

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  • That's a great point in regards to the "quality vs safety" aspect. I wanted to just point out in addition that Loblaws themselves may have considerably more stringent requirements than regulatory (particularly so for their private label projects) when it comes to vendor/processor food safety standards. I formerly worked at a frozen recipe meals manufacturer in the US and we did a lot of exports to Canada. When our client was absorbed by Loblaws, I had the opportunity to fly out to their HQ and work with their QA on a PL project (it was also my first time visiting).
    – Arctiic
    May 16, 2023 at 4:09
  • In the industrial food processing sector (or the food industry in general), it is not uncommon for each facility's QA team to conduct their own research in order to establish critical limits or other such criteria given that it is based upon scientific or evidence-based data, and proper validation (and re-validation) is performed with due diligence. If they are willing to disclose it, you may even be able to reach out to the QA department and ask for the "reference to code" for the 42 hour figure, generally QA should be willing to assist as long as no proprietary or NDA'd content is involved.
    – Arctiic
    May 16, 2023 at 4:14

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