Although the high meat-low vegetable diet is considered the reference high-risk diet for colorectal cancer, particularly in USA communities, other at-risk dietary patterns, such as high intakes of processed meat and refined carbohydrates are emerging. Little is known about risk factors for colorectal cancer in France, a country at high risk of rectal cancer and moderately high risk of colon cancer. We compared diet of colorectal cancer cases (n = 171) and general population controls (n = 309) in Burgundy (France). Categories of intake were established by sex and based on the distributions of food intakes in controls. Odds ratios for the fourth vs first quartile of intake (OR4) were 2.0 (1.1-3.6) for refined cereal products (rice, pasta and pastry), 2.4 (1.3-4.5) for delicatessen, 2.3 (1.2-4.2) for patés, 1.7 (1.1-2.8) for offal and 2.1 (1.1-4.0) for butter, lard and cream. There was no association with consumption of fresh meat (OR4 = 1.2), fish (OR4 = 1.5), egg (OR4 = 1.1) or dairy products (OR4 = 1.0). A protective effect of vegetables was only observed for left colon cancer (OR3 = 0.3; 0.1-0.6). In men, the most significant risk factors were refined cereal products, seasoning animal fats, chocolate and coffee, whereas risk factors were delicatessen, fat meat, pasta, rice, and chocolate in women. The strong association with refined cereal products is consistent with the hypothesis of a role of hyperinsulinism in colorectal carcinogenesis. The association with processed but not fresh meat suggests the importance of exogenous carcinogenesis in that area.