The presence of biologically derived toxins in foods is of utmost significance to food safety and human health concerns. Biologically active amines, referred to as biogenic amines, serve as a noteworthy example, having been implicated as the causative agent in numerous food poisoning episodes. Of the various biogenic amines encountered, histamine, putrescine, cadaverine, tyramine, tryptamine, beta-phenylethylamine, spermine, and spermidine are considered to be the most significant, and can be used as hygienic-quality indicators of food. Biogenic amines can be monitored using whole-cell bioluminescent bioreporters, which represent a family of genetically engineered microorganisms that generate visible light in response to specific chemical or physical agents in their environment. The light response occurs due to transcriptional activation of a genetically incorporated lux cassette, and can be measured using standard photomultiplier devices. We have successfully engineered a lux-based bioreporter capable of detecting and monitoring the biogenic amine beta-phenylethylamine. This research represents a biologically-based sensor technology that can be readily integrated into Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point programs to provide a rugged monitoring regime that can be uniformly applied for field-based and in-house laboratory quality control analyses. Since the bioreporter and biosensing elements are completely self-contained within the sensor design, this system provides ease of use, with operational capabilities realized by simply combining the food sample with the bioreporter and allowing the sensor to process the ensuing bioluminescent signal and communicate the results. The application of this technology to the critically important issue of food safety and hygienic quality represents a novel method for detecting, monitoring, and preventing biologically active toxins in food commodities.