A microbiological study of cold, ready-to-eat sliced meats from 2579 catering establishments (public houses, hotels, cafes, restaurants, residential homes and other catering premises) found that 2587 of 3494 samples (74%) were of acceptable quality, 892 (26%) were of unsatisfactory quality and 15 (<1%) were of unacceptable quality. Unacceptable results were due to high levels of Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus aureus, Listeria species and/or Clostridium perfringens. Unsatisfactory results were mostly due to high Aerobic Plate Counts. The microbiological quality of cold, ready- to-eat meats was associated with meat type, premises type, management training, hygienic practices, meat supplier and length of storage. The relationship between food hygiene training and microbiological quality is discussed.