maxmeats That is a fair point and there are absolutely people who make jerky without nitrites as they are going to be low enough in both water activity and pH that they don’t need them. The reason we don’t recommend this is that A) unless you have a way to test both of these you cannot be sure you achieved the desired levels and B) if the toxins are created then merely reaching target temp/water activity and or pH won’t necessarily neutralize them. So, even if you kill off the bacterium Clostridium botulinum, if the spores have already created the toxin then you could be in some danger.
Also, the toxins have no identifiable characteristics as far as I am concerned. In Meatgistics University Jerky:101 What is Jerky I addressed this quickly with the following paragraph
“You might hear some people say that Jerky does not need to be cured as it is going to be dried out. However, the meat will not start out at that level of dryness and since we are cooking this at low temperatures we are creating an environment that is ideal for the growth of botulism, so cure should be used for safety reasons. Think of it as a seat belt, your car will start without it but it’s not a great idea to ride around town without it on!”
EDIT - I have no clue why there is a smiley face with sunglasses! That is supposed to be B) …ahhh I guess I know why there is a smiley face with sunglasses in my post. it is supposed to a capital b with a parenthesis after it to show it is the second point I was trying to make.