The construction of specific bioluminescent bacteriophage for detection of pathogenic organism can be developed to overcome interferences in complex matrices such as food, water and body fluids. Detection and identification of bacteria often require several days and frequently weeks by standard methods of isolation, growth and biochemical test. Immunoassay detection often requires the expression of the bacterial toxin, which can lead to non-detection of cells that may express the toxin under conditions different from testing protocols. Immunoassays require production of a specific antibody to the agent for detection and interference by contaminants frequently affects results. PCR based detection may be inhibited by substances in complex matrices. Modified methods of the PCR technique, such as magnetic capture-hybridization PCR (MCH-PCR), appear to improve the technique by removing the DNA products away from the inhibitors. However, the techniques required for PCR-based detection are slow and the procedures require skilled personnel working with labile reagents. Our approach is based on transferring bioluminescence (lux) genes into a selected bacteriophage. Bacteriophages are bacterial viruses that are widespread in nature and often are genus and species specific. This specificity eliminates or reduces false positives in a bacteriophage assay. The phage recognizes a specific receptor molecule on the surface of a susceptible bacterium, attaches and then injects the viral nucleic acid into the cell. The injected viral genome is expressed and then replicated, generating numerous exact copies of the viral genetic material including the lux genes, often resulting in an increase in bioluminescence by several hundred fold.