Cell-based biosensors have been proposed for use as function-based detectors of toxic agents. We report the use of Betta splendens chromatophore cells, specifically erythrophore cells, for detection of food-associated pathogenic bacteria. Evaluation of erythrophore cell response, using Bacillus spp., has revealed that this response can distinguish pathogenic Bacillus cereus from a non-pathogenic B. cereus ΔplcR deletion mutant and a non-pathogenic Bacillus subtilis. Erythrophore cells were exposed to Salmonella enteritidis, Clostridium perfringens and Clostridium botulinum. Each bacterial pathogen elicited a response from erythrophore cells that was distinguished from the corresponding bacterial growth medium, and this observed response was unique for each bacterial pathogen. These findings suggest that erythrophore cell response has potential for use as a biosensor in the detection and toxicity assessment for food-associated pathogenic bacteria.