Middle School Food Safety Lessons
1 The 4Cs of
National Health Education Standards
1:1; 1:8; 3:4; 6:3
- Introduce this lesson:
“Food safety is a very important issue
that we will be pursuing for this lesson and the four that follow.
Essentially, food safety
is everyone's responsibility — everyone involved in growing, processing,
transporting, and handling our food along all the points in
our complex food distribution system. Food safety is a serious issue that
affects the wellbeing of every individual. We all must eat
so we are all at risk of becoming ill if our food becomes contaminated.” (State
if you are teaching all five lessons.)
“Let's get started. We have a great
deal to cover to begin our understanding of this important issue.
I want you to remember the points we
make in this lesson. Remembering could truly affect your life.”
- Can I Take Your Order?
Walk up to one student and ask:
“Can I take your order, please? How
do you like your hamburger? What would you like on your salad?”
- Take 2 or 3 more orders and write them down. Then ask (if students
haven't already asked teachers you):
“What do you think the hamburger,
orange juice, and salad have to do with health?”
student answers on the board. Then ask: “Which
of the foods would you most like to eat? What do you want on
there anything that might be on the hamburger, in the orange juice,
or in the salad that you didn't order?”
- Give students a few hints. Hopefully, someone will mention
bacteria. Then say:
“Aha! You have your first clue to
the connection between these foods and health.”
“Have you or has anyone you know ever
become ill from eating food?” Encourage
students to express, when? what? and where? “How could
you get sick from a hamburger, orange juice, or a salad?” (You
can get sick if harmful bacteria are present in the food.)
Use the following exercise to emphasize how prevalent foodborne
illness is and to help students realize the seriousness of this issue
and how it is related to them.
- Ask students:
“How many of you have been affected by foodborne illness?” Write
that number on the board.
- Now compute what percentage of the class
thinks they have had foodborne illness.
- Using that percentage,
ask your students to estimate how many students in the entire
school might have had foodborne illness.
(Note: Tell the students that this is only an
assumption, and not an actual survey. This information is simply
to help the students
relate to the statistics that you are about to give them.)
- Point to
the information already on the board regarding foodborne illness.
“There are approximately 274 million
people in America. If 76 million people become sick due to foodborne
illness, ask the students to
calculate the percent of the population affected. Discuss the students'
reactions to this percentage and have them relate it to the percentage
calculated for the class. Then reiterate the importance of studying
|activity 3 (optional)
(For use if teacher wishes to complete entire five lesson unit)
- Ask the students to form the following three teams: hamburger,
orange juice, and salad.
“How do you think the hamburger,
orange juice, or salad got to you?”
Let them brainstorm for about 10 minutes and list their ideas.
This provides the segue to the Farm-to-Table Continuum.
- Show students
Safety Farm-to-Table illustration. Let them
crosscheck their lists with the Farm-to-Table Continuum. They may
include even more steps, and that’s good—it shows that they are
- Now ask:
“Whose responsibility is it to keep
this hamburger, orange juice, and salad safe form harmful bacteria?”
Hopefully, the students will come up with it’s everyone’s
responsibility, including their own once the food is in their
possession. Discuss the reasons we all play a role in protecting
our food supply.
- Students should begin a notebook related to food safety. They
should place Food Safety: Farm to Table Continuum in this notebook
|Time to Tune In
Module 1—Understanding Bacteria
- Introduce the video by explaining:
“There’s a lot of science behind keeping our food safe.
begin by meeting Dr. X, a crusading food scientist who’s dedicated
his life to fighting harmful bacteria and foodborne illness, and
Tracy, a student working on her science video project, who teams
up with him on his mission.”
- “I challenge you to uncover the
following food-safety science links (found on the sheet being
passed out) as you watch
- What four weapons
does Dr. X use to fight harmful bacteria?
- What is the significance
of the mysterious 0157:H7?
- What is Dr. X referring
to when he talks about the “baddest
of the bad?”
- What does DNA have to
do with bacteria? What does it tell us?”
- Show video
Module 1—Understanding Bacteria (Time: 15 minutes).
- “Dr. X talked about his four food safety weapons
for fighting harmful bacteria; what are they?” (Clean,
Cook, Chill, and Combat Cross-Contamination)
- “What’s the significance of 0157:H7?” (E.coli 0157:H7
is one kind of E.coli that causes foodborme illness. E.coli evolved
from the harmless E.coli bacterium.)
- “Dr. X described the “baddest of the bad;” what
was he referring to?” (The 12 Most Unwanted Bacteria that
cause foodborne illness.)
- “What does DNA have to do with bacteria?” (DNA encodes
the information that enables bacteria to grow, reproduce, and cause
- “What does DNA tell us?” (When there is an outbreak of
foodborne illness, epidemiologists use the pathogen’s DNA
fingerprint to determine the source of bacteria.)
- “What does science have to do with food safety?” (Food
safety has everything to do with controlling bacteria. There are
all kinds of scientists dedicated to developing methods to keep
our food supply safe.)
- “Whose responsibility is it to keep our food supply safe along
the Farm-to-Table Continuum?” (It’s everyone’s
- “What effect do each of the 4Cs have on bacteria?” (Cleaning
removes bacteria from hands and surfaces. Cooking [heat] kills bacteria
by breaking down their cell walls. Chilling slows down the bacteria’s
metabolism, thus slowing their growth. Combating Cross-Contamination
prevents the spread of bacteria from one object to another.)
|Summarize by saying:
“It’s everyone’s responsibility to control the
spread of bacteria—from the farmer, the food processor, the
person who transports our food, the people who work in supermarkets
restaurants, and consumers when they take the food home. (In our
next lesson we are going to find out more about the path food takes
along the Farm-to-Table Continuum.)* Remember to keep washing your
(*If you are teaching lesson 2.)
|Ask the students to:
- Check the Internet to learn more about when and why food
safety became a National Initiative.
Some Websites are:
Cells Alive (www.cellsalive.com)
Gateway to Government Food Safety Information (www.foodsafety.gov)
Introduction to Bacteria (www.ucmp.berkeley.edu/bacteria/bacteria.html)
The World’s a Click Away (www.scilinks.org, keyword:
Food Safety, Code: FS300)
- Collect articles on food safety from their
local paper and TV news reports, and write a report on local
food safety issues. Post articles
and reports on the class bulletin board. (Later, place in notebook.)
out Food Safety A to Z Guide,
particularly the 4Cs section beginning on page 54.
- Survey people
in their class/grade/school/faculty to find out
how many of them may have experienced foodborne illness.
- See real-life
scientists in action by going to www.cfsan.fda.gov/~dms/careers.html.