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 3 The 12 Most Unwanted Bacteria
National Health Education Standards
(grades 9-11) 1:1; 1:3; 3:1
Introduce this lesson:
  • “I would like to explain to you that this lesson is more than a research project. What you learn today could have a decided impact on what you and your family think about food safety. There are approximately 274 million people in the United States. If 76 million say they have become ill due to foodborne illness, its not hard to calculate the percentage of the population affected.” (Do the math on the board.)
  • “You will have a special opportunity today to learn about the specific bacteria that get into our food, what foods are associated with the bacteria, and about the illnesses that can result. You are fortunate to be able to gain this information because in the long run you can save yourself and your family from some very uncomfortable illnesses. Sometimes food poisoning is fatal.”
  • “You also need to keep in mind that if your mother is pregnant, if your grandfather is elderly, or if a member of your family has been ill for an extended period of time and has a low resistance to harmful bacteria (called a weakened immune system) or if you have a young brother or sister--these are the people who can become ill more quickly from the bacteria we are studying.”
activity 1
  1. Indicate:
    “We are going to divide into four (or five) groups of four students each.”
  2. State:
    “I am providing each group with a micro viewer and good and bad bacteria for you to observe.”
  3. Explain to students:
    “We also have a Fight Bac™ poster from the U.S. Department of Agriculture that I want you to see.” (Display poster)
  4. Conduct a discussion among the students about good and bad bacteria. Develop a definition for board viewing of what a pathogen (bad bacteria) is.
activity 2
  1. State:
    “We are now going to watch a portion of the Dr. X and the Quest for Food Safety video.”
  2. Show the video Dr. X and the Quest for Food Safety, Module 1, Understanding Bacteria (15 minutes).
activity 3
  1. State:
    “I have placed the names of the five most unwanted bacteria on the board. The numbers you see are cases of food poisoning caused by the bacteria in our area.” Teacher note: Numbers of cases should be mismatched to the bacteria so students can guess which number goes with the proper bacteria.
  2. State:
    “Please assign one student from your team to pick a colored index card from this bowl. That index card will be one of the five bacteria described in some detail in your packet. This is the bacteria on which your group should do research.”
  3. Share with students:
    “I would like each group to report briefly on their bacterium. Answer questions and hold a discussion as time will allow.”
“By now, you all know that a pathogen is any microorganism that is infectious and causes disease. I would like to stress again that foodborne bacteria can have a major impact on young children, the elderly, or those who have weakened immune systems (those who are ill with other diseases such as AIDS). Now let’s see if each group can guess which number of cases of foodborne illnesses on the board are related to the bacterium they studied.”
Integration ideas
  • Ask the English teacher or speech teacher to request that the groups responsible for each pathogen present orally in their English class about their pathogen (especially if you are unable to hold two classes for these lessons).
  • Have students check pages 10 and 11 of Nutrition Action Health Letter, January/February 2003 for "Unforgettable Foods," an article describing food poisoning, rates, and national statistics of same. Page 11, entitled "the Dirty Dozen" includes information related to bacteria, virus, and toxins. This information was adapted from Diagnosis and Management of Foodborne Illnesses, A Primer for Physicians ( rr5002a1.htm), by the American Medical Association, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Nutrition Action Health Letter is published by the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) since 1974. The newsletter accepts no government or industry funding and no advertising. The cost for a one-year subscription (10 issues) is $24; two years are $42. Contact CSPI at (202)265-4954 (fax),,
  • Ask the students to learn more about their pathogen by checking the following websites:


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Rhode Island Department of Education

Rhode Island Department of Health

University of Rhode Island

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