Blue mussels (Photo courtesy of Travis S./Flickr)

Cleanest Mussels Found in Nunavik

ICTMN Staff
2/2/11

Nunavik, the northern region of Quebec, offers the highest grade and cleanest mussels in the world, according to a study published in the Canadian Journal of Microbiology, reported Nunatsiaq Online.

Significantly lower levels of bacteria registered in blue mussels living near Nunavik villages than those found in Europe, the U.S. coast and in the St. Lawrence River, said the study’s lead author and Laval University researcher Benoit Lévesque to Nunatsiaq Online.

“These mussels are very good quality,” Lévesque told Nunatsiaq Online.

Because shellfish thrive in shallow waters, they can easily be contaminated by sewage, the Journal noted. While some Nunavik areas are possibly tainted from the discharge, no traces of E.coli or salmonella were discovered in the mussels. The common bacteria are known to infect European mussels, reported Nunatsiaq Online.

The only downfall for Nunavik mussel eaters is the shellfish can occasionally contain mould from animal feces, and therefore should be eaten cooked, not raw—the way many Nunavimmiut enjoy their mussels, Lévesque said.

Ingesting the mould, which contains protozoan parasites, could induce chronic or prolonged gastrointestinal problems, stated Nunatsiaq Online.

The study collected data from blue mussels in six Nunavik communities. The villages of Salluit, Aupaluk, Tasiujaq, Quaqtaq and Kangirsuk were recruited through the ArcticNet Network, which selected the villages from a report by Environment Canada about mussel beds in Nunavik, states the Journal. The sixth community, Inukjuak, requested to participate, seeking to verify the safety of a couple mussel beds, noted the Journal.

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