The present research was undertaken to assess the microbiological characteristics of cig kofte (spiced raw meatball) purchased from different retail markets in Bursa province of Turkey. The total mesophilic aerobic bacteria, coliforms, Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus aureus and sulphite-reducing anaerobic bacteria counts, as well as the presence or absence of Salmonella was tested by using standard microbiological methods. In the tested samples, the mean counts (CFU/g) of total mesophilic aerobic bacteria, the coliforms, E. coli, S. aureus and the sulphite-reducing anaerobic bacteria were 5.5 x 10(6), 2.9 x 10(3), 2.6 x 10(2), 8.7 x 10(2) and 1 x 10(1) respectively. Salmonella were detected in two meatball samples (2%) and both of the isolates were serotyped as Salmonella enterica subsp. enterica serovar Typhimurium (S. Typhimurium). Antibiotic resistance pattern of the isolates as performed by the disc diffusion method revealed that they are susceptible to all antibiotics tested. The relatively high bacterial counts and status of harbouring some foodborne pathogenic bacteria, particularly E. coli, S. aureus and S. Typhimurium raise concerns regarding the hygienic quality of raw material and the handling process of cig kofte and its potential risks for public health. (C) 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.