In a retrospective study on the microbiology of minced meat from small food businesses supplying directly to the consumer, the relative contribution of meat supplier, meat species and outlet where meat was minced was assessed by "Classification and Regression Tree" (CART) analysis. Samples (n = 888) originated from 129 outlets of a single supermarket chain. Sampling units were 4-5 packs (pork, beef, and mixed pork-beef). Total aerobic counts (TACs) were 5.3 +/- 1.0 log CFU/g. In 75.6% of samples, E. coli were <1 log CFU/g. The proportion of "unsatisfactory" sample sets [as defined in Reg. (EC) 2073/2005] were 31.3 and 4.5% for TAC and E. coli, respectively. For classification according to TACs, the outlet where meat was minced and the "meat supplier" were the most important predictors. For E. coli, "outlet" was the most important predictor, but the limit of detection of 1 log CFU/g was not discriminative enough to allow further conclusions. (C) 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.