The work describes a simple cotton swab-based colorimetric immunoassay as a rapid screening tool for pathogenic bacteria on poultry processing plants. This immunosensing platform can be used for the detection of pathogens present on surfaces such as glass, stainless steel and chicken meat. Unlike the reported assays, here, cotton swab plays dual function: as a sample collector from the solid surfaces and as detection platform. The immunoassay was tested for the detection of 4 different bacteria; Salmonella typhimurium, Salmonella enteritidis, Staphylococcus aureus and Campylobacter jejuni. The immunoassays were fabricated by immobilizing specific antibody for each bacterium on a cotton swab that is used to recover the cells from contaminated surfaces. Then, a sandwich immunoassay was developed by immersing the cotton swab in different colored nanobead-conjugated antibody solutions which corresponds to different bacteria. The immunoassays response was detected colorimetrically by following the change in the color intensity produced by the nanobeads due to the specific binding on the cotton swab. This simple colorimetric assay is very sensitive with a detection limit of 10 cfu.mL−1. Furthermore, no significant cross reactivity of the immunoassays with non specific bacteria was observed indicating good selectivity of the immunoassays. This simple, disposable and easy-to- use colorimetric platform shows great promise as rapid qualitative and semi quantitative detection tool for microorganisms on food processing plants and other surfaces. Graphical abstractSchematic of the sandwich colorimetric immunosensor for the detection of pathogenic bacteria on poultry processing plants using cotton swabs and nanobeads.