Abstract The aim of this study was the development of a rapid novel biosensor system based on the Bioelectric Recognition Assay (BERA) for the detection of aflatoxin M1 (AFM1). Membrane-engineering was achieved by electroinsertion of AFM1-homologous antibodies into the membrane of the cells. The sensor measured the electric response of cultured membrane-engineered fibroblast cells suspended in an alginate gel matrix due to the change of their membrane potential after the interaction of the analyte molecules with the antibodies. The BERA-based sensor was able to detect AFM1 rapidly (3min) at very low concentrations (5 pg/ml = 5 ppt), thus demonstrating a higher sensitivity than most currently available biosensor-based methods. In addition, the assay was quite selective against other aflatoxins, such as aflatoxin B1 and ochratoxin A. Furthermore, the assay system allowed for high throughput AFM1 analysis (160 individual tests/h), due to its multiple cell–electrode interface array. Although further research is required for the optimization of the assay, the elimination of possible matrix effects and its validation by assaying actual food samples, this novel biosensor offers new perspectives for ultra-rapid, ultra-sensitive and low-cost monitoring of mycotoxins in food commodities.