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Middle School Food Safety Lessons

Lesson 1 The 4Cs ofUSDA Scientists Food Safety
National Health Education Standards
(grades 5-8)
1:1; 1:8; 3:4; 6:3
time: 45 minutes
teacher note
This lesson is discrete and can be taught as a single lesson or in conjunction with others in this series. The Teacher Resources include pre-and post-tests for this lesson; these may be used at the teacher's discretion. The lesson includes five activities.
Student Learning Objectives
  1. Students will learn how the 4Cs of Food Safety (Cooking, Chilling, Cleaning, and Combating Cross-Contamination) control bacteria.
  2. Students will learn an estimate of the number of people affected with foodborne illnesses in the United States.
  3. Students will understand that it's everyone's responsibility to control the spread of bacteria—from the farmer, food processor, persons who transports the food, people who work in markets and restaurants, to the consumer.
Required Materials
  • A hamburger, glass of orange juice, and a salad (optional)
  • Hot plate and skillet (optional)
  • A food model or a picture of food
  • Food Safety A to Z Reference Guide* (See the following terms—Bacteria, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Deoxyribonucleic Acid, Escherichia coli O 157:H7, Farm-to-Table Continuum, Foodborne Illness, Four Steps to Food Safety, Pathogen, pH.) Also see the 4Cs section beginning on page 54.
  • Food Safety Farm to Table* for each student from Food Safety A to Z Reference Guide* (
  • Science and Our Food Supply: Investigating Food Safety from Farm to Table; Teacher's Guide for Middle Level Science Classrooms (2001)*
  • Food models or pictures of food if authentic food is not being used.
  • Small notebook, or pad (for taking student food orders) If you are "game," a waitress apron and cap.
  • Dr. X and the Quest for Food Safety video, Module 1, Understanding Bacteria* and Teacher Resource with student questions.
  • Remind students to bring a notebook in to store materials related to food safety.

    *Publications and videos listed above may be obtained from the National Science Teacher's Association,

  • If you wish to use authentic food, purchase or obtain from food services 1/4 pound of hamburger meat, salad foods for one salad, and orange juice for one glass.
  • Bring a skillet from home or borrow from school food service.
  • Locate and bring in a hot plate.
  • Set up a hot plate and skillet to cook the hamburger as students enter the room. Have salad and orange juice visible.
  • As students walk in, be cooking a hamburger to entice their senses. Other options are to post a large picture of the food in a conspicuous place, use food models, or dress up as a waiter/waitress. You can wear an apron and have a pad and a pen readily available for taking your students' orders. As the students come in, let them comment on the food. Don't give students an explanation. Let the atmosphere stimulate their curiosity.
  • If teaching a number of lessons, prepare Family Letter for each student.
  • Place this information of the black board:
    Foodborne Illness in the U.S. (1999 estimates):
    76 million illnesses
    325,000 hospitalizations
    5,000 deaths
    (Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
  • Duplicate Teacher Resource Questions for Reviewing Video for each student.
  • Ask that a video tape recorder and screen be placed in your room.
  • Duplicate the enclosed Family Letter on school stationery and place in envelopes to send home with students at end of this lesson, if you are teaching all five lessons.
Teacher note: Students should not consume any food used in this lesson.
teacher note

This lesson was drawn from the first lesson in Science and Our Food Supply: Investigating Food Safety from Farm to Table: Teacher's Guide for Middle Level Science Classroom (National Science Teacher's Association). This innovative and supplemental curriculum introduces students to the fundamentals of microbiology while at the same time imparting important public health information.*

The curricula found in Science Our Food Supply were developed in cooperation with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The curriculum that you will be using draws only from public health lessons—not laboratory lessons—which are also available in Science and Our Food Supply. The lessons have all been tested by an experienced team of middle level teachers and meet National Science Education Standards.

*Permission has been granted in advance for the reproduction of these print materials in their entirety.
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