Bacterial contamination by Listeria monocytogenes not only puts the public at risk, but also is costly for the food-processing industry. Traditional biochemical methods for pathogen identification require complicated sample preparation for reliable results. Optical scattering technology has been used for identification of bacterial cells in suspension, but with only limited success. Therefore, to improve the efficacy of the identification process using our novel imaging approach, we analyze bacterial colonies grown on solid surfaces. The work presented here demonstrates an application of computer-vision and pattern-recognition techniques to classify scatter patterns formed by Listeria colonies. Bacterial colonies are analyzed with a laser scatterometer. Features of circular scatter patterns formed by bacterial colonies illuminated by laser light are characterized using Zernike moment invariants. Principal component analysis and hierarchical clustering are performed on the results of feature extraction. Classification using linear discriminant analysis, partial least squares, and neural networks is capable of separating different strains of Listeria with a low error rate. The demonstrated system is also able to determine automatically the pathogenicity of bacteria on the basis of colony scatter patterns. We conclude that the obtained results are encouraging, and strongly suggest the feasibility of image-based biodetection systems.