In developing public policy on food safety, systematic identification and thorough investigation of all general outbreaks is necessary in order to avoid bias towards highly publicised outbreaks. In Wales, from 1986 to 1998, 87 general foodborne outbreaks of salmonellosis were identified. Most outbreaks occurred at functions or were associated with small catering outlets such as bakeries and sandwich bars. In 50 outbreaks, a vehicle of infection was confirmed microbiologically and/or epidemiologically. The most common food vehicles were those containing shell eggs. Salmonella enteritidis outbreaks were significantly more likely than outbreaks of other serotypes to be associated with vehicles containing shell eggs, suggesting that eggs were also the source of infection in many outbreaks. The routine use of analytical epidemiological studies to identify vehicles in outbreaks is recommended.