A combined capture and detection method comprising of nano-immunomagnetic separation (NIMS) and surface enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS) was developed to detect Escherichia coli O157 from liquid media including apple juice. The capture antibodies (cAbs) were immobilized on magnetite-gold (Fe3O4/Au) magnetic nanoparticles (MNPs) which were used for separation and concentration of the E. coli O157 cells from model liquid food matrix. The capture efficiency (CE) for E. coli O157 using MNP was found to be approximately 84-94%. No cross reactivity was observed with background non-target organisms. There was a significant difference in the mean CE of bacteria captured by MNP and commercially sourced immunomagnetic microbeads (p<0.05). For the detection of target pathogen, SERS labels were prepared by conjugating gold nanoparticles with Raman reporter molecules and the detector antibody (dAb). Au-Raman label-dAb was interacted with gold coated MNP-cAb-E. coli O157 complex. The ability of this immunoassay to detect E. coli O157 in apple juice was investigated. We have successfully applied the synthesized Fe3O4/Au nanoclusters to E. coli O157 detection in apple juice using the SERS method. The lowest detectable bacterial cell concentration in apple juice was 10(2)CFU/mL with a total analysis time of less than an hour. This method presents a convenient way of preconcentration, separation, and detection of low levels of target pathogen from liquid food matrix.