The major goals of our project are to determine the safety of air-dried beef (droëwors), a new South African dried beef product that is becoming increasingly popular in the USA. This falls within the program priority area ofvalidatinginnovative processes for food processing to effectively reduce the presence of enteric pathogens, including low-moisture foods. Air-dried beef such as biltong and droëwors areprocessed differently than traditional US dried beef (beef jerky) which is heated tolethal temperaturesof 160*F or more. Biltong (dried beef) and its sausage version (droëwors) are dried at ambient temperatures and moderate relative humidity (75oF, 55% RH).The USDA-FSIS hasdeclared that the lack of scientificdata in the literature quantifying the lethality of biltong/droëwors processes on enteric pathogens preventsthem from making decisions on biltong/droëwors processes from a scientific standpoint and therefore they have required processors to 'provide microbial validation' that the manufacture of these products is safe.The USDA-FSIS provided several alternative processes, one of which included demonstrating greater-than-or-equal-to a 5-log reduction of a pathogen of concern for biltong/droëwors (i.e., Salmonella), and claimed thatthis was a 'knowledge-gap' area and fertile ground for additional research. Based on this need, my lab provided additional research on biltong, publishing multiple peer-reviewed studies demonstrating >5-log reduction of Salmonella, STEC E. coli, Listeria monocytogenes, and Staphylococcus aureus on biltong;the use of alternative salts (CaCl2, KCl)that could be used instead of NaClto still achieve a >5-log reduction of pathogens and yet reduce sodium levels;and identify surrogate non-pathogenic bacteria that could serve as inoculumorganisms for in-plant validation. These studies have been recommended by USDA-FSIS to commercial processors for use as validation of their processes (if using the same conditions). However, droëwors sausage offersdifferent processing dynamics in whichpotential contaminating bacteria are internalized and coated in fat/protein, and are not on the surface as in biltong. The droëwors air-dried process remains to be scientifically validated for pathogen reduction and that is the intention of this project.