Cupped oyster shells now being used as reusable face masks

The Scottish Shellfish industry has been very badly impacted with the lack of orders from the UK restaurant business, which traditionally is where most of the oysters are consumed. Change is necessary for survival in this uncertain year ahead, and one company in southern Scotland has diversified one step more.

Since the Covid-19 outbreak more than one year ago, it has been observed all over the world, that the use of face coverings is important in stopping the spread of the disease. Face shields have been demonstrated to work, but the number one face covering is the face mask. Daisy O’Farllop, from Blokitoff near Glasgow, a shell processing plant (and previously Sensis ensis, the ladies beauty treatment, see page 13, Grower April 2016) has seen a surplus in oysters, that due to the pandemic have grown too large to sell to the traditional restaurant market. Shellfish farmers now have an urgent need to sell their large stock to make space for the new seed this spring. Daisy is now able to purchase these large oysters at good prices, but it is not the meat she is interested in, but the shells.

Daisy said, “The cupped shell of the rock oyster is nature’s perfect face mask. It is sustainable, and it is a perfect tear shape so the hinge can rest on the nose and the wider flared end of the shell can cover the mouth. It has been proven in trials, that droplet infection is reduced by 95% by deflecting the air from the nose and mouth, back towards the wearer, and not forwards.” She goes on to say, “In recent trials most people said they would like to wear a reusable face covering and the selling price of around £3 / mask was good value. The photo shows a feverishly hot model, demonstrating the joys of shell wearing, which has been simply attached with a green ribbon. Blokitoff plans to offer several other colours when it comes on sale, including aquamarine, laminaria brown and anomia grey. Whilst modelling for this photo shoot, it was noted that old shells can have a mild smell, so this could also act as an early warning that if the wearer cannot smell the shell, they could be experiencing early signs of Covid. A company spokesperson said, “Scotland always has produced some very fine shellfish, and even after this last bumpy year, it is great to see the industry is adapting so well to the new normal, we wish them every success.” This prototype model, hopes to get approval from Public Health Scotland in the next few weeks and they should be on sale by 1st April this year.

If any farmer or processor would like to find out more, please do email nicklake@assg.org.uk

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Above: Daisy models the new reusable mask

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