The drying process is, in and of itself, a method of preserving meat. Removing the moisture inhibits the bacteria that causes meat to spoil. I can speak from personal experience that, if kept absolutely dry, lean meat can be kept for 2 years or more. A fatty meat will not keep as long and may go rancid. In humid areas of the country, it will take some doing for it to last that long. Of course, the addition of flavoring agents makes the process somewhat problematic, as well.
I will leave discussion of added preservatives to other, more knowledgeable, folks here.
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