The actual microbial status of the lamb production chain at three slaughterhouses, one processing plant, and five butcher shops selling whole or cut lamb carcasses to consumers was assessed with a previously developed microbial assessment scheme. All studied establishments had a food safety management system (FSMS) that was implemented according to legislative requirements. Microbial safety level profiles were constructed for each establishment and provided clear indications of which pathogens, hygiene indicators, or utility parameters required attention to improve the performance of the microbiological control protocols of the implemented FSMS. The highest contamination was found in the slaughterhouses in samples taken from the meat products (aerobic mesophilic plate counts [AMPs] of 3.40 to 6.63 log CFU/cm2 and Enterobacteriaceae counts of 1.00 to 4.62 log CFU/cm2), contact surfaces (AMPs of 2.44 to 8.92 log CFU/cm2), and operators' hands and/or gloves (AMPs of 2.84 to 8.09 log CFU/cm2), especially after hide removal and evisceration. The microbial assessment scheme is a useful tool for providing insight into the actual microbiological results achieved with an FSMS implemented in establishments at various stages along the lamb production chain.

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