A quartz crystal microbalance sensor (QCM) was developed for sensitive and specific detection of Salmonella enterica serovar typhimurium cells in food samples by integrating a magnetic bead purification system. Although many sensor formats based on bioaffinity agents have been developed for sensitive and specific detection of bacterial cells, the development of robust sensor applications for food samples remained a challenging issue. A viable strategy would be to integrate QCM to a pre-purification system. Here, we report a novel and sensitive high throughput strategy which combines an aptamer-based magnetic separation system for rapid enrichment of target pathogens and a QCM analysis for specific and real-time monitoring. As a proof-of-concept study, the integration of Salmonella binding aptamer immobilized magnetic beads to the aptamer-based QCM system was reported in order to develop a method for selective detection of Salmonella. Since our magnetic separation system can efficiently capture cells in a relatively short processing time (less than 10 min), feeding captured bacteria to a QCM flow cell system showed specific detection of Salmonella cells at 100 CFU mL(-1) from model food sample (i.e., milk). Subsequent treatment of the QCM crystal surface with NaOH solution regenerated the aptamer-sensor allowing each crystal to be used several times. (C) 2014 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.