Abstract Among 48,901 samples of ready-to-eat food products at the Danish retail market, 0.5% had counts of Bacillus cereus-like bacteria above 10 4 cfu g −1. The high counts were most frequently found in starchy, cooked products, but also in fresh cucumbers and tomatoes. Forty randomly selected strains had at least one gene or component involved in human diarrhoeal disease, while emetic toxin was related to only one B. cereus strain. A new observation was that 31 out of the 40 randomly selected B. cereus-like strains could be classified as Bacillus thuringiensis due to crystal production and/or content of cry genes. Thus, a large proportion of the B. cereus-like organisms present in food may belong to B. thuringiensis.