1. To evaluate the thermal drying process commonly used by small and very small
operations in order to validate the jerky production process.
<P>2. To determine the impact of relative humidity on the production of beef jerky.
<P>3. To develop documents that could be used by small and very small beef jerky
producers to support their Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP)
Findings: The procedure used by small and very small processors to produce beef jerky was proven to be sufficient in reducing the level of Salmonella even when low levels of humidity were present during the lethality step. When compared to a process whereby high humidity was applied for at least 25% of the cooking time, the reduction levels were statistically similar. It became apparent that there were not any significant differences between the two treatments as both levels of humidity provided reductions to undetectable levels. Furthermore, under these conditions, it is apparent that the level of relative humidity applied during the cooking cycle does not greatly influence the level of pathogen reduction in this jerky production system.
<P>However, it cannot be concluded that this research obtained the required 6.5 log reduction as required by 9 CFR 318.17. Therefore, data obtained from this study cannot be used as a validation resource for small and very small beef jerky producers. Further research with initial inoculation levels higher than those required by the regulations is needed in order for an accurate estimation of lethality to be determined.