Rapid immunoanalytical screening of food and environmental samples for small molecular weight (hapten) biotoxin contaminations requires the production of antibody reagents that possess the requisite sensitivity and specificity. To date animal-derived polyclonal (pAb) and monoclonal (mAb) antibodies have provided the binding element of the majority of these assays but recombinant antibodies (rAb) isolated from in vitro combinatorial phage display libraries are an exciting alternative due to (1) circumventing the need for experimental animals, (2) speed of production in commonly used in vitro expression systems and (3) subsequent molecular enhancement of binder performance. Short chain variable fragments (scFv) have been the most commonly employed rAb reagents for hapten biotoxin detection over the last two decades but antibody binding fragments (Fab) and single domain antibodies (sdAb) are increasing in popularity due to increased expression efficiency of functional binders and superior resistance to solvents. rAb-based immunochromatographic assays and surface plasmon resonance (SPR) biosensors have been reported to detect sub-regulatory levels of fungal (mycotoxins), marine (phycotoxins) and aquatic biotoxins in a wide range of food and environmental matrices, however this technology has yet to surpass the performances of the equivalent mAb- and pAb-based formats. As such the full potential of rAb technology in hapten biotoxin detection has yet to be achieved, but in time the inherent advantages of engineered rAb are set to provide the next generation of ultra-high performing binder reagents for the rapid and specific detection of hapten biotoxins.