The first jerky criterion is that it should be jerky (dried meat), although there are many exceptions, such as turtle, snake, fish, vegan, and mushroom jerky.
Three reviews are done on each bag of jerky: Ingredient, Taste, and Bag Design.
Beef jerky ingredient rating starts at an 8, 9, or 10.
Excellent (10/10) – Ingredient Rating
- Organic beef, or
- 100% grass-fed beef.
Very Good (9/10) – Ingredient Rating
- Cattle are partially grass fed with free range access, or
- Cattle are free of growth hormones and additional antibiotics.
Good (8/10) – Ingredient Rating
- There are no bad ingredients used.
The following criteria will deduct an ingredient rating.
- Salt level is over 350mg of salt per 28 grams of jerky. Note that salt levels are ignored when sea salt or an equivalent is used.
- Sugar level is 4 grams or more for a non-sweet based flavor per 28 grams of jerky.
- Sugar level is 5 grams or more for a hot based flavor per 28 grams of jerky.
- Sugar level is 6 grams or more for a sweet based flavor per 28 grams of jerky.
- High fructose corn syrup (HFCS).
- Sodium nitrite, sodium erythorbate, or potassium sorbate.
- Monosodium glutumate (MSG).
- Hydrolyzed soy, wheat, or plant protein.
- Disodium inosinate or disodium guanylate.
- Artificial color.
- Artificial flavor.
- BHA or BHT.
- If caramel color is listed three times or more.
- If corn syrup is listed three times or more.
- Propylene Glycol.
- Partially hydrogenated oils.
CHOPPED & FORMED JERKY
- Jerky is not in its natural state (loses two ingredient ratings).
Terrible (1/10) taste ratings are reserved for dollar store jerky sold in 2010 with an overpowering chemical taste and a slimy, shiny chopped & formed texture that gave jerky a bad name.
Excellent (10/10) taste ratings are awarded when the flavor tastes excellent. A ‘wow’ factor does not have to apply when you have zero complaints about the flavor. The flavor is as advertised, and the jerky wants you having more.
For several years, Paul, Stéphane, and I write our taste reviews. Paul has vehemently complained against instilling ‘jerky taste criteria’ into the taste review, which he interprets as a ‘jerky taste review template’. This in turn severely inhibits Paul’s individual creativity. Paul will write a taste review live without seeing the ingredient list describing what he is tasting. The same goes for Stéphane to a lesser extent. The jerky taste criteria do not necessarily apply to Paul or Stéphane’s taste ratings.
Taste ratings are a weighted average, rounded up or down. E.g. 10-10-9 (29/3 = 9.67 = Excellent (10/10) taste rating), 10-10-8 (28/3 = 9.33 = Very Good (9/10) taste rating).
- Flavor name matches the taste
- Flavor is as advertised
- Too salty
- Too sweet
- Too spicy or not spicy enough
- Big brand jerky processed flavor of beef
- The natural taste of beef
- Flavor is reminiscent of homemade beef jerky
- Smoked flavor
- Creative flavor
- Being addictive leaving you wanting more
- Well-defined taste profile
- Fresh ingredients detected
- Texture has a natural grain to tear the strips
- Texture is not too tough to chew
- Texture is not excessively messy to handle
- Texture has a snap (meat sticks only)
BAG DESIGN RATINGS
Assigning a bag rating can be subjective. There are many bag categories to consider. The bag design rating starts at a 7, 8, 9, or 10.
Excellent (10/10) – Bag Design Rating
- No labels affixed.
- Looks professional or original.
Very Good (9/10) – Bag Design Rating
- No labels affixed.
Good (8/10) – Bag Design Rating
- Labels affixed to both the front and back.
Decent (7/10) – Bag Design Rating
- A label is affixed to the front.
- easy to read “best before date”
- allergen alerts
- nutrition facts table
- jerky weight stated in both grams and ounces (USA only)
- transparent window to view the actual jerky
- United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) or Canada Department of Agriculture (CDA) inspected stamp
- ingredient list
- jerky maker/distributor address details
- jerky website stated
- company logo
- blurb about the company or jerky flavor
- clever slogans
- jerky facts
- resealable bag (over 2 ounces)
- sturdy thickness of the plastic bag
- no excessive unused space
- vacuum sealed (optional but preferred)
- oxygen absorber (optional but preferred)
- easy to open the bag (optional but preferred)
- phone number (optional but preferred)
- email address (optional but preferred)
- social media handles (optional but preferred)
- meat of origin details (optional)
- hole at the top to hang on hooks (optional)
- export gift pack information statement (optional)
- satisfaction guaranteed policy (optional)
- QR code (optional)
- French translations (Canada only)
The jerky ratings are self explanatory.
- Excellent (10/10)
- Very Good (9/10)
- Good (8/10)
- Decent (7/10)
- Alright (6/10)
- Average (5/10)
- Fair (4/10)
- Bad (3/10)
- Very Bad (2/10)
- Terrible (1/10)