Unit Product Hygiene and Disinfection Strategies

The unit assesses the health risks to consumers as a result of exposure to microorganisms in and on articles of daily use and consumer products. This includes hygiene requirements and methods for testing the antimicrobial effectiveness of disinfectants and products finished with antimicrobial properties. Articles of daily use include materials and objects that come in contact with food, personal hygiene articles, toys, clothing, and cleaning and care products for household use. The unit also provides support within the scope of the application process for the inclusion of antimicrobially effective substances in the recommendations of the BfR, and in legislation proceedings on the use of biocides in articles of daily use and consumer products. The unit also performs its own research in this field, e.g. on the development of resistance in bacteria in biofilms under the effects of biocides.

The National Reference Laboratory (NRL) for Listeria monocytogenes is housed within the unit. Listeriosis is an infectious bacterial disease which is transmitted to humans primarily through contaminated food. Several hundreds of cases of listeriosis are reported in Germany every year. Main focus is placed on the differentiation and typing of Listeria isolates from foods, as well as environment samples from the production and processing of foods. To this end, the reference laboratory has conventional microbiological and modern molecular methods at its disposal which are implemented in line with the provisions of the standard ISO 17025 under accredited conditions. In addition to this, the NRL supports the official control laboratories in the investigation of listeriosis outbreaks, conducts proficiency tests, offers training courses and provides methods and expert scientific opinions.

Another area of main focus lies in the identification and characterisation of food-associated highly pathogenic bacteria. A high-security laboratory (BSL3) in which bacteriological, serological and molecular detection methods are developed and applied for selected bacterial pathogens (e.g. Brucella spp.) of biosafety level 3 is maintained within the unit for this purpose. New pathogen variants are also examined for their hazard potential within the scope of risk assessment.

The unit cooperates with numerous partner institutes, universities and control laboratories in various national and international research programmes.

The staff members are involved in the work of various committees (DIN, §64 LFGB, CEN).


Head of Unit

Dr. Szilvia Neuhaus


Visitors' address
Diedersdorfer Weg 1
D - 12277 Berlin

Postal address
Max-Dohrn-Str. 8-10
D - 10589 Berlin




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