Science of Food Safety: Grades 9-12


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. This SciGuide was co-developed between FDA and NSTA.

Have you ever been at a faculty meeting when all of a sudden you became ill to your stomach? Have you ever had a “24 hour flu?” Was it really a flu caused by a virus or was it something else? Could it have been food poisoning?

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Reviews (4)
  • on Tue May 22, 2012 2:57 AM

This is a review of the Sci Guide Science of Food Safety This Sci Guide is broken down into four topics. 1 Understanding Bacteria, 2 Farm, 3 Processing and Transportation, 4 Retail and Home and 5 Outbreak and Future Technology. The flow of this Sci Guide takes you on the same journey your food goes on starting from the farm and ending on your plate. Bacteria is one of the leading causes of foodborne illnesses. It can be found everywhere and can spread extremely fast. In this part of the Sci Guide you have websites that help you classify various types of bacteria, information on the safe handling of food, and how the government responds to a report of contaminated food. My favorite website is a website takes you through 4 lesson plans that give you tons of information about food safety. I especially like the acronym F.A.T.T.O.M. which explains the various factors that allow foodborne pathogens to grow: Food, Acidity, Time, Temperature, Oxygen, and Moisture. Food that contains harmful substances and / or pathogenic microorganisms can cause food borne illness. The section titled farm takes you to a list of websites that explain the various organizations associated with the government such as the USDA, FDA and the CDC. This section clarifies the various government departments associated with protecting us getting sick from our food. Food is cleaned and packaged before it’s shipped to various locations around the world. The section on processing and transportation takes you to various websites that explain the different ways food products can be treated to protect you from bacteria. Irradiation, pasteurization and UHP are highlighted in this section. Once food is in our care we need to educate ourselves on the steps we need to take to protect ourselves from foodborne illness. In the section called retail and home we take the responsibility of protecting ourselves from bacteria using the 4 C’s of food safety, chilling, cooking, cleaning, and combating cross contamination. In this section you will find helpful websites, lessons, and activities to educate yourself and your students on the 4 C’s. Even though our food system is as clean as it ever was. We need to protect ourselves from new pathogens and bacterial resistance to our methods of treatment. In the section titled outbreak and future technology we learn how epidemiologists can use molecular technology to trace the source of a foodborne illness outbreak. This Sci Guide provides more than enough material and information to make a robust unit on food safety. You have many angles and ways to use this Sci guide to teach food safety along with any biological topic you cover. If you’re teaching ecology you can tie that in to the farming section. If you’re studying DNA you can relate that to the way scientist use DNA finger printing to find patterns and points of origin.

Gerry Clarin
Gerry Clarin

  • on Tue Jan 17, 2012 10:34 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 Tue Feb 12, 2013 3:15 PM

My students are starting an aquaponics system, this SciGuide has informational lessons and are relevant. Some basics that this SciGuide covers are foodborne illnesses and points of contamination and hygiene. Some parts of this SciGuide that I utilized were: having the students research the top 12 pathogens that cause foodborne illnesses and understanding the farm-to-table continuum. These sections helped students understand the importance of hygiene and how to prevent illness. To the lessons, I added a microorganism ubiquity lab. This allowed student to physically see the presence of bacteria from places that they swabbed. This is a great way to get students engaged into something they cannot see with their own eyes. I also utilized a site that was presented: To break this site down into more manageable chunks for student comprehension, I created a few thinking maps. Overall, I think that this SciGuide is full of great ideas. I would just add a few more engaging lessons/demonstrations to help students buy into learning about something that is not visible to the naked eye.


  • on Sat Nov 17, 2012 3:56 PM

The SciGuide titled Science of Food Safety has several informative links to great resources for developing a lesson plan. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has silly videos that could be used to introduce the 4Cs of food safety. Each video features a hyperbole of the maxims to clean, separate, cook and chill. The Iowa State University site offered a YUCK section with images of live bacteria cultures sampled from actual kitchens and eateries. The fast food lesson that teaches best practices for workers is relevant for many high school students who may consider afterschool or summer jobs. I would have liked to see a lesson plan the allows students to research and explore the flow of food from the farm to table. Many students do not see a connection or the importance of farms in their everyday lives. Many students do not even know what a carrot, tomato or onion plant looks like. I think teaching about the use of antibiotics, organic vs. nonorganic, and the conditions of animal farms ties into food safety. I may have my students create a flow map that follows a certain food product from farm to table.


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