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Food Safety

Join HLN as we take this opportunity to learn basic food safety tips and facts, and also about Louis Pasteur and his contributions to food safety. This unit's lessons will take you across the grades and across the curriculum!

Kids cooking, Food poisoning-ever had it? You don't want to! "Food poisoning" describes what happens when we eat harmful bacteria that have contaminated our food, and we get very sick from it. The Gateway to Government Food Safety Information sponsors the National Food Safety Education Month every September to help both the food service industry and the consumers of food learn about food safety.

Food Safety Tips

Use Caution While Shopping!

  • Don't buy foods in dented, rusty, bulging, or leaky cans or in cracked jars or jars with loose or bulging lids. Never buy cracked eggs.
  • When shopping for frozen foods, make sure to get them into the freezer at home quickly!

Keep Cold Foods Cold!

  • Low temperatures may make you cold, but your food loves it! As the temperature of food goes down, so does the risk of organisms growing in it, organisms that could make you sick!
  • Keep your refrigerator no higher than 40º F.
  • Keep your freezer 0º F or below.
  • Don't let cooked or refrigerated foods, such as salads, sit at room temperature for more than two hours.
Keep It Clean!
  • Keep food free from organisms that cause food poisoning by keeping the food, the preparation equipment, and yourself clean.
  • Wash your hands with soap and warm water before you start preparing food and after using the bathroom.
  • Don't sneeze or cough on food.
  • Thoroughly rinse fruits and vegetables with water before eating or preparing.
Keep It Separate-Don't Cross-Contaminate!
  • Wash your hands with soap and warm water before you handle a different food.
  • Organisms can "travel" from raw to cooked food, so never let possibly contaminated raw food touch cooked food.
  • Wash utensils, including the cutting board, with soap and warm water between each preparation step.
Keep Hot Foods Hot!
  • Get food hot enough to sizzle. High food temperatures (165º F to 212º F) reached by boiling, baking, frying, and roasting kill most food poisoning organisms.
  • Cook foods thoroughly at a high enough heat to kill organisms.
  • Never eat raw eggs; they might contain harmful organisms.
  • When cooking in the microwave, stir or turn the food and turn the dish several times.
  • Once cooked, keep hot foods hot until eaten.
Use Caution!
  • Be suspicious. If you notice mold, cut off a large section of the food around the mold and throw it out.
  • If you're not absolutely certain about a food, throw it out!

How Do We Keep our Food Safe?

There are about 250,000,000 people in the United States. On the average, each person consumes over 126 pounds of potatoes, 95 pounds of other vegetables, 92 pounds of fresh fruit, 112 pounds of red meat, and 233 pounds of milk and cream each year. By doing a little multiplication, you can begin to get an idea of the nation's food consumption each year. Realizing just how much food must be produced, shipped, processed, packaged, stored, and prepared can help you appreciate what a remarkable accomplishment it is that the United States has the safest food supply in the world. During its trip from farm or feedlot to consumer, there are many places where food may become contaminated, yet almost always the food you finally buy is safe.

Two government agencies, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), employ many people whose main job is helping to keep our food supply safe. For example, the FDA conducts tests, sets standards, and enforces laws regulating food quality and processing. FDA inspectors make regular inspections to see that the laws are being followed. When manufacturers make a request to put food additives or color additives in foods, the FDA reviews the chemicals' safety before deciding whether to approve the request. It also reviews, approves, and regulates medicines used to treat animals. The USDA regulates and inspects meats and poultry during slaughter and processing.

We rely heavily on the FDA, the USDA, and other government agencies to protect our food supply. Food safety is a big part of their job, but it is everyone's responsibility. Food producers, processors, sellers, and individual consumers, like you, also have an important part to play. The greatest threats to food safety - bacteria and viruses - are the hazards over which you as a consumer have the greatest control. Don't let yourself down. Accept your share of the responsibility for keeping your food supply safe. Learn about food safety hazards and what you can do to protect yourself. Then put your knowledge into action.

U. S. Food and Drug Administration
Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition
FDA/IFIC Booklet, 1993

Learn More About Food Safety!


Food Safety in History:
Louis Pasteur's Great Discoveries

Louis Pasteur was born on December 27, 1822 in Dole, France. His discovery that most infectious diseases are caused by germs, known as the "germ theory of disease," is one of the most important discoveries in medical history. His work became the foundation for the science of microbiology, and his work gave birth to many other branches of science.

Pasteur solved the mysteries of rabies, anthrax, chicken cholera, and silkworm diseases, and contributed to the development of the first vaccines. He proved that the widely accepted theory of spontaneous generation was false. He also discovered and described the scientific principles behind fermentation, wine-making, and the brewing of beer.

The mark of a brilliant scientist is founded upon mastery of the logical scientific process. Louis Pasteur was known for his ability to survey data, link the data to a hypothesis and conduct experiments in controlled conditions to prove his theory. Lastly, the genius of his discoveries was seen in his ability to uncover a solution from those results.

Pasteur's achievements seem wildly diverse at first glance, but a deeper look at the evolution of his career indicates that there is a logical order to his discoveries. He is revered for possessing the most important qualities of a scientist: the ability to survey all the known data and link the data for all possible hypotheses, the patience and drive to conduct experiments under strictly controlled conditions, and the brilliance to uncover the road to the solution from the results.


"Imagination should give wings to our thoughts but we always need decisive experimental proof, and when the moment comes to draw conclusions and to interpret the gathered observations, imagination must be checked and documented by the factual results of the experiment."
-Louis Pasteur

Louis Pasteur's work has protected millions of people from disease through vaccination and pasteurization.

Learn More About Louis Pasteur!

Related Books

Sabin, Francene. Louis Pasteur : Young Scientist. Troll Communications, 1983. ISBN 089375854X. Reading level: Ages 4-8.

Smith, Linda Wasmer. Louis Pasteur : Disease Fighter. Springfield, NJ: Enslow Publishers, 1997. ISBN 0894907905. Reading Level: Young Adult.

Jakab, E. A. M. Louis Pasteur : Hunting Killer Germs (Ideas on Trial). McGraw-Hill Professional Publishing, 2000. ISBN 0071343342. Reading Level: Young Adult.

Fun Food Safety Basics

You will learn vocabulary, writing skills and facts about food health and safety.

Review the child-friendly food facts by Kid's World. Younger children can write out the 10 rules and illustrate each with this worksheet (print one worksheet to write and illustrate 5 rules, or two worksheets to illustrate all 9!) . Test their vocabulary with this worksheet and answer sheet.

Additional Resources:

Bad Bug Book!

You will learn about bacteria and viruses that contaminate food, and practice their writing skills.

Kid's World offers a condensed, illustrated Bad Bug Book. To see the full version, visit the FDA's Bad Bug Book . Use the Kid's World Bad Bug Book to review harmful bacteria and viruses that can be gotten from unsafe food. Use this worksheet to have students summarize what they've learned. Hint: print out the Bad Bug Book pages for easy study and review!

Then, have students take the Kid's World Food Safety Quiz or the BBQ food safety quiz.

Safe Food Lessons

You will learn about foodborne pathogens, consumer control points, time and temperature factors, and other food safety factors.

The Safe Foods Project on the Iowa State University Web site offers a series of four food safety lessons for the middle grades. They include:

  • Lesson 1:
    What's bugging you?
    Students will get an overview of the importance of food safety and become familiar with common foodborne pathogens.


  • Lesson 2:
    What are Consumer Control Points?
    This lesson focuses on the application of Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) principles to prevent foodborne illness in the home.


  • Lesson 3:
    Where is the Danger Zone?
    A hypothetical situation using cartoon characters explains the importance of time and temperature in keeping food safe.


  • Lesson 4:
    Who is FAT TOM?
    An animated turkey, FAT TOM, explains the importance of factors affecting the growth of foodborne pathogens.
They also offer a Glossary of Terms that lists over forty food safety terms. From there you can link to more Web-based information.

In the Kitchen!

You will learn about cooking in a safe manner.

Two lessons for you to do in your own kitchen!

Kitchen Cookin'! (K-5)
Jump in and do some cooking in your kitchen! Take the opportunity of Food Safety Month to try some new recipes and talk about food safety at the same time! Try out some kid's recipes at:

Can Your Kitchen Pass the Food Safety Test? (Grades 6-12)

"What comes to mind when you think of a clean kitchen? Shiny waxed floors? Gleaming stainless steel sinks? Spotless counters and neatly arranged cupboards?

They can help, but a truly "clean" kitchen--that is, one that ensures safe food--relies on more than just looks: It also depends on safe food practices. In the home, food safety concerns revolve around three main functions: food storage, food handling, and cooking. To see how well you're doing in each, take this quiz, and then read on to learn how you can make the meals and snacks from your kitchen the safest possible."
by Paula Kurtzweil, FDA

Food Safety Poster

You will learn about promoting food safety to others.

Make a poster about food safety! Use the Web sites listed above and have students list the key food safety points. Have students think of a slogan, create a design and list the Food Safety Tips.

Once the poster is complete, go to your local library or community center, and ask if the poster could be hung there for Food Safety Month. Older children could teach younger children about food safety at library reading hour or community center activities. Be creative! Help spread the word about food safety!

Foodborne Illnesses - A Lesson

You will learn about foodborne illnesses and their causes.

The Utah State Office of Education has provided this in-depth lesson, Food and Science Section 02 Unit 01: Food Borne Illnesses. Students learn background information about foodborne illnesses and their causes, and fill in worksheets to provide assessment of retention of the material. This lesson ties together the basic food safety rules with their roots-the bacteria and molds that cause foodborne illnesses.

Introduction To The Food Industry

You will learn about the food industry and career opportunities in the food industry.

Introduction to the Food Industry is a self-study learning tool designed to assist high school students in their exploration into the food industry and its career opportunities. This learning tool has been designed, written and produced as a public service to the educational community by Safeway Inc. in partnership with California Polytechnic University, Food Science and Nutrition Department, in San Luis Obispo and Arroyo Grande High School in Arroyo Grande, California. The Institute of Food Technologists funded the worldwide distribution of the course via its Internet Webpage.

Mad Cow Disease-A Journalist's Report

You will learn about the "Mad Cow Disease" and writing comprehensive reports.

Have students use the research below to study "Mad Cow Disease". Then have them do the following exercise:

An outbreak of Mad Cow Disease has been discovered in a small town outside of London. Write a newspaper report about the outbreak. Consider:

  • Where was the outbreak? (Use maps provided in the links below to choose a town)
  • What were the circumstances of the outbreak?
  • Explain "Mad Cow Disease" to the audience.
  • Explain how others can avoid getting this disease.
  • Use maps, charts and photographs if applicable.
Additional Resources:

The Disease Detective!

You will learn about the detection and study of diseases and their causes.

The Science Olympiad is held every year by the CDC. Disease Detectives requires students to apply principles of epidemiology to a published report of a real-life health situation or problem. This event is intended for teams of up to two people. Approximate time to completion is 50 minutes.

Epidemiology is the scientific study of instances (including "outbreaks") of disease, injury, health, and disability in populations and entails scientific reasoning skills, a quantitative view of risks, survey methods to study opinions, behaviors, or other aspects of populations, and interdisciplinary links between medicine, statistics, and laboratory sciences.

Report about Louis Pasteur

You will learn about the life and achievements of Louis Pasteur.

Use the text above related to Louis Pasteur, as well as the related Web sites and books to teach your children about him and his contributions to food safety. To reinforce knowledge, have students write a report about this famous scientist, and draw a portrait of him.

Crack the Code!

You will learn about addition and subtraction, decoding, and a basic food safety tip.

Use this K-2 worksheet or this 3-5 worksheet to "Crack the Food Safety Code"!

Students will practice their math skills while decoding an important Food Safety Message!

Article by Patricia Carnabuci, HLN Curriculum Development
Article © Homeschool Learning Network, All Rights Reserved.


Last Updated on Monday, 20 February 2012 19:01

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