Considering the health risks of E. coli O157:H7 presence in food and water, an affordable and highly sensitive detection method is crucial. Herein, we report the first use of a single antibody-based fluorescent lateral flow immunoassay (FLFIA) depending on non-radiative energy transfer between graphene oxide and quantum dots for determination of E. coli O157:H7 in beef and river water. FLFIA showed a high sensitivity rate thousand-fold better than the conventional lateral flow (LF). In inoculated minced beef and river water samples, the limits of detection were 178 and 133 CFU g−1 or mL−1, respectively. Besides, it presented a high selectivity in the presence of other possible interfering bacteria. The single antibody approach reduced the assay cost to 60% less than the conventional LF. Alongside, the results could be read by portable LF readers or smartphones. These advantages offer FLFIA as a promising technology for pathogen detection in food and water.