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Evaluation of High Humidity and Wet Marinade Methods for Pasteurization of Jerky



ABSTRACT:  The USDA FSIS meat and poultry jerky compliance guidelines recommend a high humidity or liquid immersion pasteurization step before drying. The objective of this study was to evaluate the effects of high humidity (>90%) or wet marinade pasteurization on jerky characteristics (water activity, moisture/protein ratio, total aerobic plate count [TAC]) and sensory properties. Jerky pasteurized by nonmarinade method A (76.6 °C dry bulb, 54.4 °C oven wet bulb temperature for 1 h) had highest sensory scores for spice intensity and interior cured color (redness), and generally lower TACs than jerky from marinade pasteurization methods. Jerky pasteurized by method B (54 °C for 121 min in marinade) had higher TACs than other methods. Approximately 2-log reduction in TAC was observed using marinade pasteurization in the smokehouse to internal temperature of 60° for 12 min (method C), or in hot marinade to internal temperature of 70 °C before drying (method D), but jerky was less spicy and somewhat darker than jerky from method A. Extruded jerky (1.5-cm thickness) was similar to intact jerky for spice flavor intensity and interior redness, but required longer drying time to reach the target Aw of 0.85. Marinade pasteurization by methods C or D was feasible, and may be a preferred alternative for some processors, since monitoring of oven humidity during pasteurization is not necessary.