Ricin is a potent toxin capable of inhibiting protein synthesis and causing death or respiratory failure. Because of its high availability and lethality, ricin is considered a likely agent for bioterrorism. Rapidly determining contamination of food product with ricin and human exposure to ricin is therefore an important public health goal. In this work, we report the development of a method that detects ricin and its activity in food or clinical samples. This method involves immunocapture of the toxin, an examination of the activity of the ricin protein upon a DNA substrate that mimics the toxin's natural RNA target, and analysis of tryptic fragments of the toxin itself. It is the combination of these three techniques, all performed on the same sample, which allows for a sensitive and selective analysis of ricin isolated from a food or clinical sample. This measurement includes a measure of the toxin's activity. The utility of this method was demonstrated on ricin spiked into food and clinical samples consisting of milk, apple juice, serum, and saliva.