During July 1991, a single laboratory reported an increased number of an unusual salmonella isolate. An outbreak control team was convened. A case was defined as an individual with diarrhoea from whose faecal sample Salmonella hadar was isolated after 1 July 1991. By 30 July, 90 isolates had been identified and 57 persons interviewed including 39 primary cases. Interviews failed to identify any common features among the cases. A review of the laboratory procedures revealed that the selenite enrichment medium was inoculated using the spoon from the stool collection kit after it was used to emulsify the faecal sample with saline for microscopy. Salmonella hadar was isolated from this saline. Once this practice was stopped, no further isolates of S. hadar were made. This pseudo-outbreak is a powerful reminder to verify the existence of an outbreak, especially when epidemiological data are inconsistent.