The objective of this research was to compare the effectiveness of two application methods (dip versus spray) of 4.4%lactic acid for reducing pathogens on inoculated beef trim and in ground beef. Beef trim inoculated with cocktail mixtures of E. coli O157:H7, non-O157 Shiga toxigenic E. coli (STEC), or Salmonella (105 to 106 CFU/g) at separate times was subjected to five treatments: lactic acid spray (LS), lactic acid dip (LD), water spray (WS), water dip (WD), and untreated control (CTL). Intervention effectiveness for pathogen reduction was measured at 1 and 20 h after treatment on beef trim. Trim was then ground and intervention effectiveness was measured 1 h, 24 h, 72 h, and 7 days after grinding. The LD treatment reduced all pathogens significantly (P < 0.05); E. coli O157:H7 was reduced by 0.91 to 1.41 log CFU/g on beef trim and ground beef, non-O157 STEC by 0.48 to 0.82 log CFU/g, and Salmonella by 0.51 to 0.81 log CFU/g. No other treatment significantly reduced any pathogen, although the WD treatment noticeably reduced (P > 0.05) both E. coli O157:H7 and non-O157 STEC populations compared with the CTL. The LS treatment reduced E. coli O157:H7 and Salmonella by up to 0.5 log CFU/g on beef trim, but these reduced counts did not significantly differ (P > 0.05) from the CTL counts. Overall, the LD treatment was most effective for reducing all pathogens and is the best of these options for improving the safety of beef trim and subsequently produced ground beef.