Healthy Schools! Healthy Kids! logo Rhode Island Food Safety Lessons
  Lesson 1
     Pre/Post Test
  Lesson 1A Laboratory
     Pre/Post Test
     Lab Outline
     Data Table
  Lesson 1B Laboratory
     Pre/Post Test
     Data Table
  Lesson 2
     Pre/Post Test
     Case Sheet
     Updates &    Clues
     5 "Ws" and    the "How"
     Scientist Tools
  Lesson 3
     Pre/Post Test
     5 of the Most    Wanted
  Lesson 4
     Pre/Post Test
     Web Quest 
     Points of    Controversy
  Lesson 5
     Pre/Post Test
     Role Play
     Regulations &    Inspectors 
  Teacher Evaluation

High School Food Safety Lessons

Lesson 2 Outbreak Investigation:
Salmonella Muenchen

National Health Education Standards
(grades 9-11) 1:7; 3:4
  1. Greet the students. In the middle of general greetings, have messenger arrive with information about a food poisoning outbreak, or have the telephone ring. (This may be trickier, but if you can depend on the school secretary or a student to make the call it will be more impressive!) Exclaim:
    “Oh no! We are receiving information about a food poisoning outbreak! Yes, this class will investigate the case. Please contact us with updates.”
  2. Say to students:
    “I need your help! You are going to be Public Health Officials (PHOs) and FBIs (Foodborne Illness Investigators).”
  3. Explain:
    “Although our food supply is one of the safest in the world, foodborne illness outbreaks do occur. It's important to be aware of the symptoms of foodborne illness and see a doctor if symptoms are severe.”

    “If the local clinical lab identifies the presence of foodborne pathogens in a patient's test, the results are sent to the state health department for further testing. When outbreaks occur, there is a national network of public health laboratories, such as the Public Health Laboratory Information System (PHLIS) and PulseNet, that helps to detect a foodborne outbreak in multiple states.”

activity 1
  1. Request:
    “May I please have two volunteers to serve as state Public Health Officials (PHOs).”
  2. Provide each PHO with "Outbreak Case Sheet" and ask that each student study the case sheet.
activity 2
  1. Divide the remainder of students into four teams of FBIs (Foodborne Illness Investigators).
  2. Indicate:
    “It is the FBIs that will discover the source of the outbreak and why it occurred.”
  3. Ask the PHOs to brief the FBI teams on what has happened by presenting the "Case Background."
activity 3
  1. Challenge your students by asking each FBI student to develop a list of questions they will need to answer in order to develop a step-by-step strategy for solving the case.

    Teacher note: For lower level classes, consider writing the 5Ws plus H (Who, What, Where, When, Why, How) on the board, as a guide. For advanced classes, let students come up with questions first. The "Who, What, etc.," can be used if necessary. It is OK if students do not come up with exact steps or conclusions of the actual investigation. The object is for them to devise a step-by-step process and arrive at a conclusion based on the sound application of science principles.

activity 4
  1. Distribute remaining copies to PHOs:
  1. Indicate to the PHOs:
    “Please read the materials I have provided and be prepared to answer questions from the FBI teams.”
  2. After 5-10 minutes, have one of the PHOs say:
    “Attention teams. We have an outbreak update that will help you solve this case.” Have the PHOs give Update #1 from Outbreak Case Sheet.
activity 5
Ask the FBI teams:
“Please continue working on your strategies until you are satisfied and then put the following on the flip chart (or large sheets of paper) to post around the room”:
  • Their strategies.
  • The 4-6 questions directed to the PHOs that were most helpful.
  • Two or three recommendations to prevent this type of outbreak.”

Teacher note: It's important for students to understand that foodborne illness outbreaks are very difficult to track and public health officials can only draw conclusions based on the information they obtain from sick persons, well persons, food establishments, and test results.

activity 6
  1. Show Module 5 of Dr. X and the Quest for Food Safety (3 minutes). (The video should be stopped right after Dr. Paul's segment, three minutes into Module 5.)
  2. Ask the student to watch for tools scientists are using to investigate FBI outbreaks:
  • PulseNet
  • The connection between PulseNet and DNA
  • Pulse-Field Gel Electrophoresis
  • How the Internet aides in outbreak investigations
  1. Teacher note: Depending on how quickly your class has progressed, you may or may not have time for review and summarization of the tools scientists are using. If you do not have time, provide Review of Tools Scientists Use In Investigating Foodborne Illness You can also use this to guide a discussion.
Review this lesson by saying:
“This was a powerful and very informative lesson related to how local labs, state health departments, and a national network of public health laboratories work together to detect a foodborne illness outbreak in multiple states. We also learned a great deal about Salmonella Muenchen—where it lives and how it multiplies. Remember this simple rule: Clean, Cook, Chill, and Combat Cross-Contamination to keep well.”
Integration ideas
Seek school personnel cooperation by:
  • Asking the Science or the English department to have students from your class prepare written or oral reports on the outbreak investigation covered in the class. Indicate that students can obtain Teacher Resource materials from you to help with accuracy of written or oral presentations.
  • Asking that an all-school announcement be made of the availability of the video Dr. X and the Quest for Food Safety at the school library. Invite all students to view it.
  • Asking the school librarian to obtain a copy Food Service Education: Community Service Learning Curriculum. A Program Using the Community Service Learning Model to Teach Youth Food Safety, Volumes I and II (Project Team: Lori Pivarnik, Ph.D., Co-Principle Investigator, and Martha Smith-Patnoad, Co-Principle Investigator) University of Rhode Island, Department of Food Science and Nutrition Cooperative Extension. This program was designed for Extension educators and their collaborators to provide training and support for FCS teachers who want to integrate food safety based community service learning into existing programming. The Extension educator provides 6-8 hours of training for the teachers with an emphasis on food safety principles and on the community service learning model.

Please refer especially to Teacher Information sheets 1-9, Teacher Fact Sheets pages 52-78, and Student Activity #1, #2, and #3 (page 79-91), which are especially related to these lessons.

  • Refer students to the following web sites:

Alphabetical Listing of Bacterial Infectious Diseases and Links

CDC Food Safety Initiative

Excite—Excellence in Curriculum Integration through Teaching Epidemiology

FAQs About Foodborne Infections

FDA Recall Policies

Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report article

The Bad Bug Book by FDA

PulseNet—The National Molecular Subtyping Network for Foodborne Illness Surveillance

USDA Food Recalls

  • Asking the librarian to place on reserve The New York Times, October 17, 2002, article "Parents of Sickened Children Ask for Tighter Food Rules" ( (This story presents status on the fight between tougher laws to prevent foodborne diseases and the meat industry.)
Kids First logo

Rhode Island Department of Education

Rhode Island Department of Health

University of Rhode Island

Bridge Communications