In September 1994, a complaint was registered at a public health unit concerning a cheese product. In addition, public health laboratories in Ontario reported an increase in the number of isolates of Salmonella berta from patients with diarrhoeal illness. A clinical, environmental and laboratory investigation was initiated to determine the nature of this outbreak. Isolates of Salmonella berta were compared using large fragment genomic fingerprinting by pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE). By late October, 82 clinical cases had been identified including 35 confirmed, 44 suspected and 3 secondary. The investigation linked illness to consumption of an unpasteurized soft cheese product produced on a farm and sold at farmers' markets. Subtyping results of patient, cheese and chicken isolates were indistinguishable, suggesting that the cheese was contaminated by chicken carcasses during production. The outbreak illustrates the potential role of uninspected home-based food producers and of cross-contamination in the transmission of foodborne bacterial pathogens.