A sustained increase in Salmonella enterica serovar Virchow notifications in South Eastern Australia between September 1997 and May 1998 instigated a case-control study and environmental investigations. Cases were defined as having locally acquired culture-confirmed S. Virchow phage-type 8 infection and diarrhoeal disease. Matched controls were selected by progressive digit dialling based on cases' telephone numbers. An exposure and food history questionnaire was administered by telephone. Phage typing and pulse field gel electrophoresis were performed on case and environmental isolates. Thirty-two notifications of S. Virchow infection met the case definition, 37% reported bloody diarrhoea and S. Virchow was isolated from blood in 13% of cases. Twelve patients were admitted to hospital and one died. Fresh garlic (OR 4·1, 95% CI 1·3–12·8) and semi-dried tomatoes (OR 12·6, 95% CI 1·5–103·1) were associated with these cases. The associations remained significant after adjusting for sex and age. S. Virchow (PT 8) was cultured from two brands of semi-dried tomatoes associated with cases in two different states. We provide sufficient evidence for semi-dried tomatoes and fresh garlic to be considered as potential risk foods in future Salmonella outbreak investigations.