The death kinetics of a strain of Saccharomyces cerevisiae were studied in an industrial scale spray drier. In solution studies, the death kinetics of yeast was found to be comparable to pathogen destruction. From the studies in drying of yeast a prediction of a 4 log cycle decrease in viable cells of pathogens could be made for normal processing conditions. This should insure the safety of spray‐dried foods unless after contamination occurs. It was found that during drying, although the rate of death is high, the activation energy is greatly decreased over that of death in aqueous solution (reduction from 130 kcal/mole to 5 kcal/mole). The reduction in Ea may be attributed to the thermodynamic compensation phenomenon in which the resulting negative entropy of reaction acts to protect the cells through a water–protein interaction. However, the possibility of a change in death mechanism cannot be precluded. Overall, these results suggest the danger in extrapolating death kinetics to high temperature.