Food borne pathogens are a growing concern for human illness and death. There is increasing demands to ensure safe food supply. There is continuous development of methods for the rapid and relible detection of food borne pathogens. Advent of biotechnology has greatly altered food testing methods. Improvements in the field of immunology, molecular biology, automation and computer technology continue to have a positive effect on the development of faster, more sensitive and more convenient methods in food microbiology. Further, development of on-line microbiology, including ATP bioluminescence and cell counting methods, is important for rapid monitoring of cleanliness in HACCP programs. One of the most challenging problems is sample preparation. More research is needed on techniques for separating microorganisms from the food matrix and for concentrating them before detection to ensure food safety, by immunological or nucleic acid-based assays. The possibilities of combining different rapid methods, including immunological and DNA based methods should be further exploited. Further developments in immunoassays and PCR protocols should result in quantitative detection of microorganisms and the simultaneous detection of more than one pathogen or toxin. Lastly, technology continuing to advance at a great pace, the next generation of assays currently being developed potentially has the capability for near real time and online monitoring of multiple pathogens. Modern methods are based on molecular biology techniques like PCR, RFLP, DNA microarray assay, immunological techniques like ELISA, biophysical and biochemical principles with the application of biosensers like bioluminescence sensor, bio-analytical sensors utilizing enzymes, electrical impedometry and flow cytometry. In this review we have tried to summarize the conventional methods and newly developed rapid pathogen detection techniques and the need for newer and rapid methods are discussed.