Jerky Safety Information

The handling and consumption of any raw meat carries with it certain risks, we at highly recommend that anyone who attempts to make jerky at home review the U.S.D.A guidelines below before you do so. You should familiarize yourself with some of the inherent risks of attempting to make homemade jerky.

  • Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water before beginning to work and after changing tasks or after doing anything that could contaminate your hands, such as sneezing or using the bathroom.
  • Start with clean equipment and clean it thoroughly after using. Be sure all surfaces that come into contact with meat are clean.
  • Sanitize surfaces with a solution of 1 tablespoon chlorine bleach per gallon of water. Allow to air dry.
  • Keep meat and poultry refrigerated at 40 °F or slightly below. Use or freeze ground beef and poultry within 2 days; whole red meats, within 3 to 5 days.
  • Defrost frozen meat in the refrigerator, not on the kitchen counter. Keep raw meat separate from other foods.
  • Marinate meat in the refrigerator. Don’t save marinade to reuse (this could cause cross-contamination). Marinades are used to tenderize and flavor the jerky before dehydrating it.
  • Steam or roast meat to 160 °F and poultry to 165 °F as measured with a food thermometer before dehydrating it in order to destroy pathogenic micro-organisms.
  • Dry meats in a food dehydrator that has an adjustable temperature dial and will maintain a temperature of at least 130 to 140 °F throughout the drying process.
  • For ground beef jerky prepared at home, safety concerns related to E coli are minimized if the meat is precooked to 160 °F prior to drying. Meat cooking temperatures are very important so pay close attention to them if at all possible.
  • Homemade jerky can only be stored for one to two months, while commercially produced jerky can last a year.
  • Most salted jerky can be stored in the refrigerator or freezer for two to three months. Any longer and it deteriorates. Unsalted jerky should be refrigerated and used within two weeks.

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