Antimicrobial intervention and process validation in beef jerky processing
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Beef jerky is a popular dried meat product because it has a high protein and low fat content and is tasty. Association of jerky products with foodborne illness outbreaks has raised questions concerning the microbial safety of the product. Antimicrobial interventions before and after marinating the strips are optional and offer the opportunity to increase the level of pathogen reduction greater than that achieved by heating and drying alone. The antimicrobial effect of chemical pretreatments with combination of either a horizontal-flow dehydrator or a commercial-type smokehouse in the inactivation of Salmonella, Escherichia coli O157:H7, and Listeria monocytogenes on whole-muscle beef jerky strip was investigated. The populations of Salmonella were significantly reduced by more than 6.5 logs cfu/strip on jerky that were pretreated with the 1:2 acidic calcium sulfate:water and dried in the dehydrator (p=0.0044) and jerky pretreated with the 1,200 ppm concentration of acidified sodium chlorite and dried in the smokehouse (p=0.0081). The populations of E. coli O157:H7 were significantly reduced by at least 5 logs for all the treatments except for jerky pretreated with the 500 ppm concentration of acidified sodium chlorite and dried in the dehydrator. The populations of L. monocytogenes were reduced by 5 logs for all the treatments regardless of the drying method.