Shiga toxin producing-Escherichia coli (STEC), an important emerging foodborne pathogen, has been associated with bloody and non-bloody diarrhea, hemorrhagic colitis, hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) and thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura. The cattle have been shown to be a major reservoir of STEC and raw foods such as ground beef and milk are the most common vehicles of infection. In the present study, the prevalence of STEC in 95 samples of frozen hamburgers and in 114 samples of soft cheese was established in 8.4% and 0.9%, respectively. The genotypic and phenotypic characteristics of the strains were determined. The virulence genes stx1, stx2, eaeA and EHEC-hlyA were identified by PCR and by colony blot hybridization assays. Serotyping, antimicrobial susceptibility and production of Stx using specific cytotoxicity assays on Vero cells were also determined. All STEC strains were characterized as eaeA-/EHEC-hlyA+. The stx2 genotype was prevalent (77.8%), and four different O:H serotypes were found, comprising: O8:H19 (5 strains), O113:H21 (1), O8:H16 (1), and O39:H49 (1). One STEC strain was nontypable. Although soft cheese complimented the microbiological quality controls for the coliform counts, the detection of STEC in one sample raises doubts concerning the effectiveness of the current quality controls. These data contribute to the implementation of strategies for the prevention and control of HUS.