National Agricultural Literacy Curriculum Matrix
Food Safety Sleuths- Food Safety Specialist
6 - 8
Two class sessions, plus 10-minute daily observations for one week
In this lesson students will learn about foodborne illness, its prevention, and the people and organizations that are involved in food safety. Students will conduct an experiment to learn how hand-washing affects the presence of bacteria on their hands.
For the teacher:
- Barbecue and Food Safety handout, 1 copy
- Food Safety Sleuths PowerPoint
For each group:
- Perils at the Picnic handout, 1 copy per group
- Presentation rubric, 1 copy per group
- Four sterile nutrient agar plates
- Clear tape
- Resealable plastic bag
- Permanent marker
- Heat lamp or incubator (optional)
- Soap, water, and paper towels
- Hand sanitizer
For each student:
- Hands On! lab worksheet
- Food Safety Sleuths handout
Essential Files (maps, charts, pictures, or documents)
- Barbecue and Food Safety
- Food Safety Sleuths PowerPoint
- Perils at the Picnic
- Hands On! lab worksheet
- Presentation Rubric
- Food Safety Sleuths handout
agar plate: a Petri dish containing a gel with nutrients for growing bacterial cultures or small plants
bacterial colony: a visible cluster of thousands of cells that grew from the original bacterial cell; one single bacterium is invisible to the naked eye, but a colony of many bacteria is visible without using a microscope.
contaminate: to make something dirty or impure by accidentally or purposely adding something harmful
food safety: the handling, preparation, and storage of food through scientifically tested methods that prevent foodborne illness
foodborne illness: any illness resulting from the consumption of food contaminated with viruses, parasites, or pathogenic bacteria
innoculate: to introduce a microorganism into a suitable growing medium.
microorganism: any organism, such as a bacterium, protozoan, or virus, of microscopic size
parasite: an animal or plant that lives in or on another animal or plant in order to get food and protection
pathogen: something that causes disease or illness
virus: extremely small organism that causes disease and can spread from one person or animal to another
Background Agricultural Connections
Interest Approach – Engagement
- Show your students the video, Cook it Safe Challenge -- Read and Follow Package Directions or one of the remaining videos from the playlist. Lead a discussion with your students about the difference between the winning team and losing team.
- Inform your students they will:
- learn how to prevent foodborne illness through safe food handling and preparation;
- learn how environmental factors influence bacterial growth;
- design an experiment to test a hypothesis; and
- identify different types of bacterial pathogens that can lead to foodborne illnesses.
- Ask students what comes to mind when they hear the words food safety, and jot some of their ideas on the board.
- Discuss an example of safe food handling practices at a picnic or barbecue. To provide students with background information on the topic of food safety, refer to the attached Barbecue and Food Safety handout found in the Essential Files. Compare the information found in the article with students’ initial ideas about food safety.
- Tell students that you will be reading a scenario to them about a group of friends who go on a picnic. Instruct students to pay close attention to food safety issues as you read the story aloud.
- Organize students into groups of 3-4 and pass out Perils at the Picnic along with the accompanying Cracking the Case questions (on page 2). Have each group read the scenario and brainstorm answers to the Cracking the Case questions. Review answers as a class. Ask students if they would have done anything differently and why.
- Give each student one copy of the Food Safety Sleuths handout. Instruct them to take notes as you review the Food Safety Sleuths PowerPoint presentation.
- At the end of the presentation, have students break into groups to come up with a catchy rhyme or song to remember the four steps for food safety. Clean, Separate, Cook, and Chill.
- Explain to students that they will be conducting an experiment to learn how hand-washing affects the presence of bacteria on their hands. Organize students into groups of 3-4 and instruct them to brainstorm methods they could use for testing the effects of hand washing on the presence of bacteria. Groups should write down their ideas about experiment set-up and should share them in a class discussion.
- After the class discussion on experimental design, distribute the Hands On! lab to each student and go over the directions as a class. Explain that this is one example of how a hand-washing experiment could be carried out and discuss its similarities to ideas that groups had while brainstorming experiment set-ups.
- Be sure to demonstrate the proper sterile technique for inoculating the nutrient agar plates.
- Instruct students to design a slide show, video, poster, or brochure describing food handling and preparation techniques. Students should use data from their own experiments as well as facts from research. Review the presentation rubric with the students.
Concept Elaboration and Evaluation
After conducting these activities, review and summarize the following key concepts:
- Foodborne illness is any illness resulting from the consumption of contaminated food.
- Food contamination can take place as a result of poor storage of food, improper cooking, or cross contamination while preparing food.
- Hand washing is an important step to protect yourself and others from foodborne illness.
- Food Safety Specialists help increase and improve the safety of our food supply.
- Allow students to alter the Hands On! lab experiment by culturing swabs from raw and cooked chicken or beef.
- Use Glo GermTM lessons and products to teach proper handwashing techniques.
- Use visuals to show images of proper food safety procedures.
- Demonstrate lab procedures and show examples of completed lesson tasks.
- Use a word wall to chart different types food storage, handling, and preparation techniques.
- Do a computer search at www.AskKaren.gov and select the En Espanol option.
We welcome your feedback! Please take a minute to tell us how to make this lesson better or to give us a few gold stars!
Suggest a focus group study on food safety for pets.
Invite a guest speaker from a local supermarket, restaurant, or food distribution businesses to make a presentation to the students about their food safety programs and career opportunities in their fields.
Have students research modern food preservation techniques such as canning, freezing, dehydrating, and pasteurization and compare and contrast them to historic techniques.
Research historical food contamination tragedies.
Suggested Companion Resources
- Food Safety from Farm to Fork: How Fast Will They Grow? (Activity)
- Food Safety from Farm to Fork: Mighty Microbes (Activity)
- Food Safety from Farm to Fork: Operation Kitchen Impossible (Activity)
- Food Safety from Farm to Fork: Playing it Safe (Activity)
- Glo Germ Set (Activity)
- Imported Food Safety (Activity)
- The 12 Most Unwanted Bacteria (Activity)
- Career Trek Game (Kit)
- How Safe is Your Salad? (Multimedia)
- Virtual Food Safety Labs (Multimedia)
- Virtual Labs: Understanding Water Activity (Multimedia)
- Gourmet Lab: The Scientific Principles Behind Your Favorite Foods (Teacher Reference)
- Antimicrobial Wash for Fresh Produce (Website)
- Feed, Nourish, Thrive (Careers Website) (Website)
- Fight Bac! Food Safety Education (Website)
Agricultural Literacy Outcomes
Food, Health, and Lifestyle
- Identify forms and sources of food contamination relative to personal health and safety (T3.6-8.h)
- Identify the careers in food production, processing, and nutrition that are essential for a healthy food supply (T3.6-8.j)
Science, Technology, Engineering & Math
- Identify science careers related to both producers and consumers of agricultural products (T4.6-8.g)
Education Content Standards
Food Products and Processing Systems Career Pathway
FPP.01.01Analyze and manage operational and safety procedures in food products and processing facilities.
FPP.01.03Apply food safety procedures when storing food products to ensure food quality.
MS-ESS2: Earth's Systems
Common Core Connections
Speaking and Listening: Anchor Standards
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.SL.1Prepare for and participate effectively in a range of conversations and collaborations with diverse partners, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.SL.2Integrate and evaluate information presented in diverse media and formats, including visually, quantitatively, and orally.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.SL.5Make strategic use of digital media and visual displays of data to express information and enhance understanding of presentations.
Writing: Anchor Standards
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.1Write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.2Write informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas and information clearly and accurately through the effective selection, organization, and analysis of content.