Identification of suitable surrogates for Aspergillus species for the microbiological validation of UV-based disinfection processes

Workgroup: Preservation of food quality

Research Partner and Scientific Guidance :

  1. Fraunhofer-Institut für Verfahrenstechnik und Verpackung IVV Freising, Joachim Wunderlich

Financing: BMWi
Duration: 2020 – 2022

In the food industry, UV radiation is often used to disinfect surfaces (e.g. packaging materials, machine parts). Microbiological validation is an important tool for quantifying inactivation efficiency in the development phase or commissioning. Special test germs are used for the production of artificially contaminated sample carriers.

These should have a high and defined resistance against the used sterilizing agent, be easily detectable and do not have pathogenic properties. Conidiospores of Aspergillus brasiliensis or Aspergillus niger are recommended in VDMA documents for testing various disinfection methods. Their use, especially for UV-based disinfection methods, is generally recognized and established widespread in Germany and Europe. In the “Techn. Rules for biological agents; TRBA 460". A. brasiliensis has been classified in risk group 2, since 2016, which excludes further utilization for microbiological validations in industrial surroundings.

In this project, suitable microorganisms shall be found as surrogates for Aspergillus species and their resistance should be influenced by specific cultivation conditions. These microorganisms can be used in the future to test the effectiveness of UV-based disinfection processes. A correlation to the previously used strains has to be established taking into account various process parameters. If the transfer is successful, the Aspergilli can be completely replaced by the surrogates found. Thus the results directly serve manufacturers of UV lamps or hygienic filling systems, which are often small and medium-sized companies, as well as end users from the food industry. They can continue to guarantee a high level of safety and constant storage stability of the packaged products by reliably checking the sterilization performance of their systems.


The IGF project presented here by the Research Association of the Industrial Association for Food Technology and Packaging (IVLV e.V.) is funded by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action via the AiF as part of the program for the promotion of industrial community research (IGF) based on a decision of the German Bundestag.