Science of Food Safety: Grades 5-8


SciGuides are a collection of thematically aligned lesson plans, simulations, and web-based resources for teachers to use with their students centered on standards-aligned science concepts.

Each year millions of people in the United States are known to become ill due to food poisoning (food-borne illness). How ill can you become? Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, cramps, and fever are just some of the symptoms that a person can have from food poisoning. Not very pleasant is it? Health authorities have a saying: “First you’re afraid that you’re going to die, then you’re afraid you are not going to die.” In 1999 the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimated that there were over 76 million cases of gastrointestinal disease including 325,000 hospitalizations and over 5,000 deaths that were directly attributable to food poisoning. This SciGuide was co-developed between FDA and NSTA.

The main concern in food-service sanitation is the prevention of illness caused by contaminated food. Bacteria, parasitic worms, and chemicals can all cause food-borne illness. Unfortunately, most food-borne illness is not recognized as such and is therefore seldom reported.

By now you are probably wondering why someone would prepare or eat poisoned food? Doesn’t poisoned food taste, look, or smell bad? No! If it did, people wouldn’t eat it. Would you eat a piece of pie that smelled bad? Would you cook a piece of green chicken? Of course not!

According to experts at the CDC, the leading factors causing food-borne illness are:

  • Improper cooling, such as leaving cooked foods at room temperature.
  • Lapse of a day or more between preparing and serving.
  • Holding hot foods at the wrong temperature.
  • Improper and inadequate refrigeration of foods.
  • Infected persons touching and handling food.
  • Improper reheating of previously cooked foods.
  • Improper cleaning of kitchen equipment such as knives, pots, and cutting boards.

  • Middle

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Reviews (6)
  • on Thu Sep 18, 2014 4:19 AM

SciGuides are really fantastic. When it's time to teach this area, I can be confident knowing I'll have the Science of Food Safety: Grades 5-8 SciGuide to go to for lesson plans, simulations, and web-based resources. I'll be able to create outstanding lessons in a shorter amount of time since many resources are easily accessible in this SciGuide.

Naomi Beverly  (Marietta, GA)
Naomi Beverly (Marietta, GA)

  • on Wed Nov 07, 2012 1:21 PM

I really like this SciGuide. I'm teaching an aquaponics class and food safety is a big issue for us. We're trying very hard to become certified as food safe so that we can sell and donate our produce. It's a challenge, but we really believe in our goals. The biggest problem I have as an educator is providing examples to my students for what food safety looks like. It's a challenge because they're so young (middle school students) and I'm not really the most knowledgable about it myself. But, this SciGuide really lays it all out on the table (literally). It has students explore the different hands that touch their food and discover the major sources for food-born pathogens. From this unit, I can have my student analyze our OWN 'farm' and have them come up with solutions to our problems, and take more ownership of the process! Awesome SciGuide!

Angelo Laskowsky  (wahiawa, hawaii)
Angelo Laskowsky (wahiawa, hawaii)

  • on Tue Jan 17, 2012 10:33 AM

This sci-guide tackles on the importance of education on food from its sources in the farm to the end user in the marktet and on the table. We are being educated in this collection of resources on how not to judge the safety of the food we eat by the external characteristics like taste, color, etc, because one could be deceived by them.

Ronaldo Relador  (Bowie, MD)
Ronaldo Relador (Bowie, MD)

  • on Wed Jan 05, 2011 1:58 PM

Great information that can be integrated with cell biology and health.

Dat Le  (Arlington, VA)
Dat Le (Arlington, VA)

  • on Sun Apr 29, 2012 6:11 PM

The Science of Food Safety SciGuide is an excellent resource for those teaching about health, bacteria, and the safety of our food supply. There are 5 main sections: Farm, Processing and Transportation, Retail and Home, Understanding Bacteria, and Outbreak and FutureTechnology. There are excellent resources to use and to gain new understandings prior to teaching a lesson. The lessons stress the farm to table continuum of food processing and how the 4C's can be utilized to keep our food supply safe from harmful bacteria. One of the lesson plans is very engaging for students as they get to become FBI (Foodborne Illness) Investigators and learn how to trace back to the person/thing that started an outbreak and learn how to keep themselves safe when eating out and preparing their own food.

Nichole M
Nichole M

  • on Thu Jan 19, 2012 11:00 PM

I needed to teach a unit on bacteria and virus, and was happy to find a Bacteria unit, set of web sites, and lesson plans tucked inside "Sciwence of Food Safety: Grades 5-8". You never know where you'll discover treasures throughout NSTA's website! Expecially liked the student sites that included several cell, bacteria and virus connections.

Alyce D  (Peyton, CO)
Alyce D (Peyton, CO)

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