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A Comparison of Oyster Processing Technologies

Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan

Citation:  Paper number  036164,  2003 ASAE Annual Meeting . (doi: 10.13031/2013.14207) @2003
Authors:   Daniel E. Martin, Steven G. Hall
Keywords:   Oysters, Shucking, Food Processing, Steam, Vibrio, Vulnificus

Mechanization of oyster processing has been of great interest to the processing sector for decades. Heat has been used to relax the adductor muscle to cause gaping and allow rapid knife insertion. Hot dipping, has been used for decades to facilitate shucking in this manner, used primarily along the East Coast (Pringle, 1961, 1964). Steam has previously been investigated to heat shock the oysters into gaping (Flick, 1982; Cook, 1980a, 1980b) to facilitate shucking. Patented processes include using splitting, grinding, dry heat, compressed air, microwave, oxyacetylene heat, crushing, infrared energy, chemical, laser, and image analyses.

This study investigated heating and chilling combinations to cause oysters to open. A central challenge was investigating the heat transfer properties of live oysters, and the instrumentation techniques pioneered here have provided some important data, as well as techniques applicable in a variety of situations. Some of the tests did provide meat detachments greater than 85%, but a challenge that remains is that even within known size classes, the types of oysters (influenced heavily by the environment where they were grown), may vary significantly.

Hence, we investigated the more central phenomena of heat transfer through the oysters and attempted to develop a methodology that could be used to define characteristics of oysters from any region. With this information, heating or cooling regimes could be used commercially to result in high meat detachment rates. Microbial shelf life was investigated, and a texture analysis was performed to compare textures between treated and untreated oysters, yielding repeatable data on how taste might be impacted.

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