Curing Salt, Nitrites/Nitrates & Botulism
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Curing Salt, Nitrites/Nitrates & Botulism
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Thread: Curing Salt, Nitrites/Nitrates & Botulism

  1. #11
    Sodium Nitrate is a powerful anti-microbal agent protecting not only against the botulism bacterium but also all other bacteria including e. coli and salmonella. I learned this during my research into making jerky, specifically the following link at the USDA - Jerky and Food Safety

    Of particular interest is the following section in the above which I will quote just due to the wealth of information in it

    What research findings exist on the safety of jerky?
    "Effects of Preparation Methods on the Microbiological Safety of Home-Dried Meat Jerky" was published in the Journal of Food Protection, Vol. 67, No. 10, 2004, Pages 2337-2341. The authors are from the University of Georgia (Brian A. Nummer, Judy A. Harrison, and Elizabeth L. Andress, Department of Foods and Nutrition, and Mark A. Harrison, Department of Food Science and Technology) and from Colorado State University (Patricia Kendall, Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition and John N. Sofos, Department of Animal Sciences ).

    Marinating meat doesn't make raw meat safe. "Marination alone did not result in significant reduction of the pathogen compared with whole beef slices that were not marinated," concluded the study.

    In the jerky studies, some samples showed total bacterial destruction and other samples showed some bacterial survival — especially the jerky made with ground beef. Further experiments with lab-inoculated venison showed that pathogenic E. coli could survive drying times of up to 10 hours and temperatures of up to 145 F.

    A study by the Harrisons and Ruth Ann Rose, also with the University of Georgia, was published in the January 1998 Journal of Food Protection, Vol. 61, No. 1. The authors analyzed ground beef jerky made with a commercial beef jerky spice mixture with and without a curing mix containing salt and sodium nitrite.

    Half of the ground beef was inoculated with E. coli O157:H7 before making it into jerky strips and dehydrating it. The authors found that in both the heated and unheated samples, the jerky made with the curing mix had greater destruction of bacteria than jerky made without it. The jerky made with the mix and heated before dehydrating had the highest destruction rate of bacteria.

    They concluded, "For ground beef jerky prepared at home, safety concerns related to E. coli O157:H7 are minimized if the meat is precooked to 160 F prior to drying."

    What are the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline's recommendations for making homemade jerky?
    Research findings support what the Hotline has been recommending to callers. Additionally, safe handling and preparation methods must always be used, including:

    Always wash hands thoroughly with soap and water before and after working with meat products.
    Use clean equipment and utensils.
    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.
    Marinate meat in the refrigerator. Don't save marinade to re-use. 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.
    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.
    The information here would equally apply to the general curing process, though of note relating specifically to refrigeration during curing is the fact that I've read that 38 degrees F is a better temp than 40 degrees. In any case, for general food safety your best results come from both using sodium nitrate and taking the meat up to 160.
    Last edited by Crys; 07-14-2015 at 01:40 PM.
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  2. #12
    You are correct, Sodium Nitrite (different from nitrate) is a very powerful anti-microbial, BUT...

    Sodium Nitrite, alone, has not really been shown to be consistently effective against, E.Coli or Salmonella. Even that article says, "...some samples showed total bacterial destruction and other samples showed some bacterial survival."

    From Wikipedia:
    It is generally agreed upon that sodium nitrite is not considered effective for controlling gram-negative enteric pathogens such as Salmonella and Escherichia coli.

    Soidium Nitrite -

    That's why the USDA (even in the above article) still recommends that ground meats, especially uncured ground meats, and poultry be cooked to 165.

    The reason CURED AND SMOKED meat/sausage are the exception, and can be considered fully cooked after it has reached internal temperatures ABOVE 150 (according to the USDA Meat Inspectors guidelines), is only PARTIALLY due to the Sodium Nitrite.

    The idea is that:
    1) The Sodium Nitrite takes care of the C. Botulinum,
    2) The meats are hot-smoked at temperatures above 165, which is hot enough to kill E. Coli and Salmonella in seconds,
    3) Hot-Smoke temperatures take the meat's internal temperature above pasteurization temps (131+) for a long enough period, that E. Coli and/or Salmonella are also destroyed.

    Hope this makes sense.
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  3. #13
    Yes it does and good catch, my main point was that it's better to be safe than sick...especially with the flawed initial research into sodium nitrate.
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