During 1990 and 1991 the Veterinary and Public Health Services of USL 35 of Ravenna carried out a research programme aimed at the control of food-borne diseases in the sector of public catering services, in collaboration with the Public Health Laboratory (Presidio Multizonale di Prevenzione). The objectives were: obtaining sure information about health hazards in public catering services; checking structural characteristics and equipment of workrooms in restaurants, hotels and refectories; verifying food preparation and preservation methods; promoting health education to increase employees' awareness of hygiene-related problems. The first objective, evaluation of the level of the control of the workrooms exerted on the food contamination hazard by pathogenic or potentially pathogenic organisms, was carried out by allotting specific scores to several characteristics of laboratories or workers' habits, as suggested by the "Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point" (HACCP) method for butcher's shops and fish markets. Five hundred ninety-eight public catering service units have been inspected in restaurants, hotels, school-refectories, factories, hospitals and social houses; 2,097 bacteriological examinations by agar-contact plates and swabs were carried out; 118 preserved-food temperatures were measured, especially in deep-frozen and cooked food; 70 food specimens were tested to search for Salmonella spp. and Staphylococcus aureus and measure Total Aerobic Mesophilic Weight. The presence of Enterobacteriaceae and Escherichia coli was also tested.