Validation of Texas beef jerky processing
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This study evaluated the thermal drying process commonly used by small and very small beef jerky operations in Texas. It was intended to determine the impact of relative humidity on the production of beef jerky and to provide documentation to beef jerky producers to support their Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point programs. This project was divided into two phases: Phase I provided a low level of relative humidity (15-25%), whereas Phase II provided a high level (100%) for 25% of the cooking cycle. Both phases consisted of three trials, each representing one of the treatments (n=18) applied to the samples. The first treatment served as the control group and included samples that were non-inoculated, while the other two treatments included inoculations of samples with a bovine fecal slurry and rifampicin-resistant Salmonella Typhimurium. Each of the three treatments for both phases was analyzed for reduction of microbial levels in addition to temperature and product composition. Once the two phases had been completed and all data were analyzed, it was concluded that there was not a statistical difference between the level of reduction for Aerobic Plate Counts, coliforms, Escherichia coli and Salmonella provided by Phase I with low humidity and Phase II with high humidity. Both levels of humidity provided similar levels of reduction within each trial, suggesting that the level of humidity does not have a great impact on the level of microbial reduction achieved. However, this study did not provide the adequate level of initial inoculation levels to support the required 6.5 log reduction stated in 9 CFR 318.7. Inoculation levels were lower than 6.5 logs for all three treatments in both phases, resulting in lower levels of overall reduction. Therefore, based upon the information provided by this study, it cannot be concluded that a low level of humidity will achieve a 6.5 log reduction as mandated in 9 CFR 318.17.
Espitia, Felicia Danielle (2006). Validation of Texas beef jerky processing. Master's thesis, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from