Microbiological and sensory changes in 313 vacuum-packed cooked ring sausages from 28 different production runs and stored at 2, 4, 8 or 12°C were monitored as a function of time. The sensory scores started to decrease at a level of approx. 107 lactobacilli/g. The judges began considering the samples unfit for human consumption when the lactobacilli counts were between 107 and 108 cfu/g; above a level of 108 cfu/g most of the samples were deemed unfit. At 2°C, however, spoilage did not always seem to be microbiological, and four out of six different production runs were deemed unfit without any marked increase in microbial counts. In such cases, the judges described the sensory defects as a ‘musty’ rather than a sour aroma and taste. The sausages were deemed unfit ehen the lactobacilli were in a stationary growth phase which was considerably later than the point when the bacterial counts exceeded 107 cfu/g. The mean length of this delay was 30, 19, 16 and 7 days at 2, 4, 8 and 12°C, respectively. The average shelf-lives were 55, 43, 29 and 17 days at 2, 4, 8 and 12°C, respectively. The dependence of shelf-life on temperature can be formulated as follows: Shelf-life = 10(1.835 − 0.048 × temperature) The maximal shelf-life of this product including nonmicrobiological spoilage, is assessed as approx. 10–11 weeks. A lactobacilli count > 107 cfu/g indicates that either the spoilage process has started or the product is already spoiled. When the lactobacilli count exceeds 108 cfu/g it is highly probable that the sausage sample is unacceptable.