The effects of removal of fat from hot beef carcasses on the shelf life of beef involved measuring the incidence of aerobic (TPC), lactic (LAC), and coliform (TCC) bacteria and the pathogen Escherichia coli (EC) from alternate sides that were hot-fat trimmed (HFT) or not trimmed (NFT) then subjected to a conventional 24-h chill. The biceps femoris, psoas major, longissimus thoracis et lumborum, and supraspinatus muscles were assayed. Higher (P < .05) TPC and EC counts were found for all muscles at 0 d than at 7 and 14 d of storage. The LAC and TCC counts were higher (P < .05) on all muscles after the 14 d of storage than after 0 or 7 d of storage. The significant differences in microbial counts were less than one log 10/g of tissue and therefore are of questionable importance. The HFT did not increase carcass microbial load compared with NFT. This study showed that HFT and accelerated processing of beef for the production of lean retail cuts did not adversely affect the shelf-life of vacuum-packaged beef.