Crusty044 will explain further.
Dear Sir or Madam,
Let me first introduce myself. My name is Jan Ooms from Brisbane, Australia. Dutch born, Australian naturalised and living here since 1965.
I am a keen Biltong maker and use your Safari Biltong Seasoning and Chakalaka Biltong Seasoning ( hot) with great results. I even smoke some some of the biltong.
My query is in relation to the cure(s) used in both seasonings, if any.
I am also a keen sausage, bacon and ham maker and smoker, all these products use cure #1 as a safeguard to botulism.
Reading your labels on both seasoning packs, there is no mention of any cures listed.
This has got me worried
About ten years ago, we had a couple of deaths in Adelaide of people that ate dried salami where the cure # 2 was NOT included in the meat mix by a well known smallgoods manufacturer.
Can you see why I am writing to you?
I make this biltong for free mainly for friends and my grandkids as well. I hate to have something happen to them.
Hopefully you can shed some light on a very worried Ouwe Kaaskop down under here.
Dear Mr. Ooms
Below the ingredient declarations of the spices you mention in your original mail.
(I made reference to the product codes next to the name for purpose of clarification on which one you might use)
BILTONG SEASONING SAFARI (Product code: 4402200)
Flavouring [MSG (E621), Colourants (E150, E153), Hydrogenated Vegetable
Fat (Palm fruit), Anticaking Agent (E551), Acidulants (E363, E330, E510, E339) ,
Flavour Enhancer (E631, E627), Flavourings, Herbs, Antioxidants ((BHA
(E320), BHT (E321), TBHQ (E321), Alpha - Tocopherol (E307)) ,
Preservatives (E202, E224)], Salt, Spice, Preservative:Potassium Sorbate,
CHAKALAKA SEASONING (Product code: 4441011)
Salt, MSG (Flavour Enhancer), Mixed Spices (Irradiated) & Spice Extracts,
Dextrose, Dehydrated Vegetables [(Garlic,Onion-Irradiated),Bellpepper
Red,Bellpepper Green], Acidity Regulator, Corn Starch, Flavour Enhancers
(Nature-identical Flavouring Substances, Flavouring Preparations,
Maltodextrin (Waxy Maize) , Starch Modified El 450 (Waxy Maize), Disodium
guanylate, Disodium inosinate), Flavouring [Glucose, Sugar, Starch, Colourant
(E-150), Acidifying Agent (E-330), Artificial Flavourants], Corn Syrup Solids
Discussion on Safari biltong:
You will notice from the Safari ingredient declaration we have the following preservatives present:
Preservative: Potassium Sorbate - this ingredient aids in the inhibition of mould growth on biltong.
If your process include the correct dosage level of Safari seasoning(45 -50g/kg of raw cut meat) plus you dry in a well ventilated area (temperature max 30°C and away from flies) - like a biltong cabinet - and you consume the biltong dry to moderately dry (approx 50% weight loss) - there should not be any problems.
The high salt content of biltong, the low water activity (reached by drying) plus the Potassium sorbate all assist in avoiding harmfull bacterial growth.
Once your biltong is dried - do not store at ambient temperatures vacuum packed - this might cause it to spoil over time.
Freeze the biltong or store at ambient temperatures in a cotton (breathable) bag.
Note that the Chakalaka spice (if I am referring to the correct one) does not contain any preservatives - But I am assuming you are using it in conjunction with Safari? Or not? If not again the process of sufficient drying in well ventilated area plus the high salt content should not pose any problems.
You mention that Salami were the culprit in Adelaide. In salami the preservative used is: Sodium nitrite (only) or a combination of Sodium nitrite and Sodium nitrate - these additives is the main ingredient to avoid food spoilage. Note that the process of Salami manufacturing is different to biltong in the sense that salami is meat - chopped up, mixed with spices and cure, then filled, smoked and fermented to a certain weight. (less than 50%) Starter cultures is mostly used to assist with this fermentation process. The problems with salami happens mostly where the outside dries faster than it should and the inside the inner meat part does not dry and ferment as required. (mostly based on the diameter of the salami unit)
Biltong is whole muscle pieces and in the process of biltong making that piece of meat is dried very well! Biltong is also smaller in diameter and drying therefore happens faster than the fermentation process relevant to salami.
A general rule of thumb -if the biltong smells strange or you see mould growth that is not white - avoid consumption. However white mould could be wiped with a cloth dipped in vinegar and would not be a problem at all.
I trust the info supplied assisted in calming your fears. Continue to enjoy Safari biltong with us.