Does Jerky Cure Kill Bacteria? (No, How to Fix!)

Does Jerky Cure Kill Bacteria?

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Does Jerky Cure Kill Bacteria?

Jerky is one of the most popular meat snacks in America. But what, exactly, is jerky? Jerky refers to a dried form of sliced beef.

The beef gets sliced into bite-sized pieces and then cured or smoked. While many variations on this theme, the result can be chewy or tough with an intense flavour profile.

Some people like it for its convenience. Others enjoy it as either an appetizer before dinner or a high-protein snack during lunchtime at work.

The main ingredients in jerky are usually meat and salt. But you can add other flavors, such as soy sauce.

Does Jerky Cure Kill Bacteria?

No! Recent study has shown that jerky is not as “safe” as many people assume it to be. Dehydrating meat doesn’t always kill the most harmful bacteria like E.Coli 0157: H7 and listeria. When using raw meat for your homemade jerky recipe, cooking it will kill any potential bacteria before consumption.

Jerky lovers, have you ever wondered if jerky kills bacteria? 

Producers make jerky out of meat that can contain harmful bacteria, like salmonella and E. coli. These bacteria are the leading cause of food borne illnesses.

But people who make their jerky might not be aware of this risk. This is because they rarely use raw meat to prepare the product.

So, there’s no need to worry about ingesting something dangerous.

Some scientists believe that dried meats are safer than fresh options. They argue that proper dehydration kills over 99.9% of bacteria.

It can also prevent the growth of molds that can make you sick. But this study found that jerky is not as “safe” as many people assume it to be.

This causes food borne illnesses in people who consume them.

Those who eat homemade jerky should still have a conversation with their physicians’ dried meats affect their health.

Does Jerky Cure Kill Bacteria?

That is, if they ever exhibit symptoms that could point to a bacterial infection.

Does Dehydrating Meat Kill Germs?

No . Dehydrators and oven dehydrating are not high enough to kill harmful microorganisms present in raw meat.

Germs can survive the drying process depending on several factors, including:

A few precautions to note about dehydrating meat:

  • Wash your hands, all utensils, and surfaces that come in contact with raw meats.
  • Boil water before drinking
  • Avoid unpasteurized dairy products (milk, cheese, yogurt)
  • Heat beef, lamb, and fish to temperatures high enough to kill pathogens before eating.

Since drying may not kill harmful pathogenic bacteria in raw meat, cooking the meat after dehydrating might work.

If you plan on doing this, though, make sure that the meat is at least 160 degrees Fahrenheit for two minutes.

To kill harmful bacteria, heat contaminated food to an internal temperature of 165 degrees for at least 15 seconds.

If heating food on a grill or in another direct flame, make sure it’s over 200 degrees.

Can You Get Botulism from Jerky?

Yes . Jerky isn’t always safe to eat, though many consumers and retailers don’t know that. This is because it requires special care.

If not handled properly, jerky can become a deadly side to your favorite weekend treat.

What Is Botulism?

Botulism has two forms: food borne and wound. You contract food born botulism after eating contaminated foods.

Contaminated foods in home-canned, preserved, or fermented products. Wound botulism occurs from the toxin produced by Clostridium bacteria found in wounds.

Botulism symptoms begin with dry mouth, followed by double vision and trouble speaking.

The paralysis moves down through the body until it hits the nerves that control breathing. This causes respiratory failure and death from suffocation.

When to Look for Treatment

If you experience any of these symptoms, seek medical attention immediately:

  • Weakness or discomfort in your arms/legs/neck
  • Difficulty swallowing, speaking or breathing.
  • Sudden onset of new weakness in an arm or leg at rest

If diagnosed early enough, treatment can reverse these effects.

How Can Botulism Happen with Jerky?

The key culprit behind food borne botulism is the formation of toxins.

Clostridium bacteria forms spores, which are dormant until exposed to adequate levels of oxygen and food.

When this happens, it produces a neurotoxin that can affect muscle functions.

This means all products that contain meat and haven’t become cooked thoroughly before consumption is at risk of contamination.

That is, if Clostridia species is present in the raw material used to make the product. This includes beef jerky.

Because it’s not fully cooked when purchased, Clostridia spores can thrive if improperly stored or handled on-site since there won’t be enough heat to kill them off.

If you have a chronic illness, open wounds, or an immune disorder, you’re at a higher risk of contracting the illness because of your low immunity.

To minimize this risk, store and handle foods safely. At home, don’t eat under-cooked jerky since it can harbor bacteria that cause botulism.

At work, keep products refrigerated and store them properly to keep contamination at bay.

Also, avoid handling uncooked herbs by the stems. Clostridium bacteria like to grow in moist environments.

Can you dehydrate jerky twice?

Yes .There is no advantage to double dehydrating. It just takes longer, and it isn’t necessary.

I can’t argue with that, but I went ahead anyway since I have a bunch of time on my hands.

The first time worked fine, except it was a little hard, so I put it back in the dehydrator for 2 hours.

After that, it seemed too dry to eat, so after another 8 hrs (for 24 hrs), I tired of waiting around and tried one, and it was superb.

So, not sure if you can tell by my article title or just from the above quote, but yes, you can dehydrate your jerky twice!

When making some jerky, I had about 10 lbs of strips that didn’t dry enough on the first dehydrating (it was taking way too long).

So, using my food processor(Amazon Link) with a slicing blade, I cut them into 2 squares and put them back in the dehydrator for 8 hours. It seems to be just right now and tastes great!

Do You Flip Jerky in A Dehydrator?

Yes and No . According to some professional chefs, it’s best to have full exposure so that all sides can get equal treatment when drying out in the oven.

Food critics contend that jerky comes mostly from beef. This means fat will drip down, making those pieces of meat soggy no matter what you do.

They recommend placing raw meat on only one side of the trays. After that, keep flipping them over every few hours to keep them evenly baked.

If your tray has perforated areas within them, it’s possible to have airflow going through from all sides.

That should compensate for any fat that drips down when you’re drying meat.

I’ve been doing this for years, and I’ve noticed no difference in taste or texture depending on whether my jerky dried on one side, how on both sides at once.

It always tastes great either way. Maybe I’m not an expert chef, but I know what makes me happy! My trusty old dehydrator is a lot of fun to use;

I can’t seem to live without it these days. Now that you know which technique works best for me, why don’t you try out whichever method sounds appealing?

How Do You Fix Bad Jerky?

How do you fix bad jerky? This is a question that many people ask us, especially when it happens to them for the first time.

No one likes to spend their money on food products only to find that they are not edible.

Thankfully, there are some steps that you can take to make your jerky edible again.

Let’s walk through these steps so that you know what to do the next time this happens.

A few things to keep in mind before trying the tips below:

While most of these solutions will work with almost any meat product.

Some exceptions, such as those containing fat or other ingredients like sugar and soy sauce, may need extra care.

  • You should trim the fat off from each piece and wash the product in clean water before you resume the drying process.
  • Keep your jerky fresh and delicious by storing it somewhere with low relative humidity (50% or less).
  • If you live in a humid environment, consider using a dehumidifier instead of an air conditioner. This is because it boasts higher output dew point temperatures than ACs.
  • That way, it will help keep moisture from collecting on your food products.
  • It is important that when rehydrating any dried product, you add enough water to cover the product completely.
  • Keep in mind that wetting a jerky product may cause it to soften or change its texture.

Most of these tips will work best with dehydrated products instead of those dipped in liquid smoke that has soaked and cannot absorb moisture.

If your product is already mushy, there’s no use continuing because, unfortunately, this means that the food has spoiled.

Please keep in mind that even though rehydrating your jerky can make it edible again.

Some products such as beef jerky slices may become badly dried out from over-drying that they lose most of their flavor and can never become “the same” again.

Rehydrating Your Jerky: The Basics

Before we jump into specific ways that you can fix bad jerky, it is essential first to understand that you must do properly rehydration of any dried food product.

Else you may end up making your situation even worse.

While many people insist on simply adding water until their jerky becomes edible again, this is not a very effective way of doing things.

It will probably lead to other problems such as bacterial growth or ruin your jerky’s texture. To effectively rehydrate your jerky, there are three basic things you need to do:

Make sure that it’s completely dry before attempting to rehydrate. If the jerky has included preservatives (most commercial brands have these).

Then adding water may not be enough for the food to regain its former taste and texture.

Because of this, it is wise that you first soak your product in a solution of about 1% salt, sugar or honey for at least 24 hours to remove some of the bitterness and further dry the meat out.

It is important that while doing this process that you change the liquid used once every 4-5 hours.

This will help prevent bacterial growth from occurring. Do not add extra flavorings (herbs, spices, or sauces) until the jerky becomes rehydrated and has regained its normal taste.

You may find that some of your favorite flavors become too bitter or just no longer taste right after drying out by improper storage methods.

If this happens, you can try adding them back later but only after the meat’s natural flavor returns.

Make sure you use plenty of water during the rehydrating process.

To properly restore moisture levels in any food product, professionals recommend that whatever liquid used to be strong enough to cover the item become soaked completely.

This ensures that enough moisture will be available for your product to saturate and return to its original texture.


If you’re a jerky lover, then don’t worry. We’ve got your back! In this article, we answered all the questions that have been plaguing jerky lovers everywhere.

You’ll be happy to know that dehydrating meat does not kill germs.

Also, note that you cannot contract a botulism contract from homemade beef jerky (although it can happen if improperly made).

Don’t forget to flip it in the dehydrator or rotate, so both sides get equal time for dehydration.

Finally, remember to monitor how long you leave raw meats out at room temperature before cooking them.

Don’t let it sit there for over 2 hours, or you risk food borne illnesses like Salmonella poisoning, which could give you diarrhea and stomach ache.


Hi! I' am Tom. I was a manager in one of the biggest stores for over 10 Years, am also an SEO by night. I don't like to call myself a blogger; they are very analytical, do email marketing, and know all SEO stuff. I faced many questions from customers about different products, and there was hardly any help on the internet. After learning all the things about these products as a manager the hard way, I decided to start a blog and help other people.

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