Biosensors for the analysis of microbiological and chemical contaminants in food

T F McGrath, C T Elliott, T L Fodey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

86 Citations (Scopus)


Increases in food production and the ever-present threat of food contamination from microbiological and chemical sources have led the food industry and regulators to pursue rapid, inexpensive methods of analysis to safeguard the health and safety of the consumer. Although sophisticated techniques such as chromatography and spectrometry provide more accurate and conclusive results, screening tests allow a much higher throughput of samples at a lower cost and with less operator training, so larger numbers of samples can be analysed. Biosensors combine a biological recognition element (enzyme, antibody, receptor) with a transducer to produce a measurable signal proportional to the extent of interaction between the recognition element and the analyte. The different uses of the biosensing instrumentation available today are extremely varied, with food analysis as an emerging and growing application. The advantages offered by biosensors over other screening methods such as radioimmunoassay, enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, fluorescence immunoassay and luminescence immunoassay, with respect to food analysis, include automation, improved reproducibility, speed of analysis and real-time analysis. This article will provide a brief footing in history before reviewing the latest developments in biosensor applications for analysis of food contaminants (January 2007 to December 2010), focusing on the detection of pathogens, toxins, pesticides and veterinary drug residues by biosensors, with emphasis on articles showing data in food matrices. The main areas of development common to these groups of contaminants include multiplexing, the ability to simultaneously analyse a sample for more than one contaminant and portability. Biosensors currently have an important role in food safety; further advances in the technology, reagents and sample handling will surely reinforce this position.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)75-92
Number of pages18
JournalAnalytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2012


  • Food Microbiology
  • Food Contamination
  • Pesticide Residues
  • Drug Residues
  • Immunoassay
  • Biosensing Techniques

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Biochemistry


Dive into the research topics of 'Biosensors for the analysis of microbiological and chemical contaminants in food'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this