Without introducing the topic of food poisoning, tell the young people that there is a mystery you need them to solve. Distribute copies of Food Safety Story. Have the youth work in small groups to read through it and identify the reasons they think the catastrophe might have happened. After a while debrief as a group, perhaps asking each group to share one idea, one at a time, until all ideas have been shared. Write their ideas on a flipchart or whiteboard. Then introduce the topic of food safety, assuring young people that you will come back to the story at the end of the lesson.
Introduce food poisoning by explaining that it is an illness that can happen when we eat foods that have harmful bacteria, viruses and parasites or their toxins. The effects can range from barely noticeable to extremely unpleasant.
1. Ask the young people if they know what symptoms these harmful germs may cause.
Symptoms of food poison may include:
Tell the youth that mild cases of food poisoning are actually common and we may not even know we have it because we think it is just a stomach flu or virus. We can’t get rid of all bacteria and some bacteria can even be good for us. There are many things we can do, however, to prevent us from getting sick from the foods we eat.
2. Most of the germs that can cause food poisoning (also known as food borne illness) come from animals, such as meat, eggs, milk, shellfish, or unwashed produced. Raw or undercooked foods are also more likely to cause food poisoning because the process of thoroughly cooking often kills unhealthy germs. Sometimes the germs are transferred from work surfaces or hands that haven’t be properly cleaned after touching contaminated food. So cleanliness and proper cooking are two of the most important ways to prevent it.
3. Ask how many help their families cook at home. What kind of things do you or your family members do to keep things clean while cooking? Make sure the following are mentioned:
Wash your hands before and after handling food.
Wash counters and food preparation areas with soap and water before cooking.
Wash fruits and vegetables before eating. For example, was the outside of melon before cutting into it.
4. Imagine that you are looking in the refrigerator for a snack. What kind of things do you do to make sure food is safe before eating it?
Only eat foods that are cooked right – if it doesn’t look done, don’t eat it.
If a food smells or looks different than it normally would, the food might be spoiled and you shouldn’t eat or drink it.
Keep leftovers only 3 to 4 days in the fridge and heat them up well before eating.
Check expiration dates and use the food before it expires. Don’t eat if it is after the expiration date.
Germs grow best at room temperature, so cover and refrigerate food right away to keep the bacteria from growing out of control.
Introduce the Myth or Fact quiz explaining that it focuses on ways we can keep our food safe. Use the interactive whiteboard lesson or the worksheet located in the What You Need section above. Have the youth work in small groups or as a large group to complete the activity and see how “food safety savvy” they are.
Now that you have learned more about the potential causes of food poisoning, ask the youth to revisit the list of things they think could have caused the illness in the half of Ms. Carey’s class. Be sure to include the following:
Preparing raw meat (the turkeys) in the same place as the sandwiches were being made could have contaminated the sandwiches.
The tuna sandwiches might have contained mayonnaise and both tuna and mayonnaise need to be kept chilled.
Suzy’s apples weren’t washed.
Tou’s salad may have gone bad even though it smelled okay.
Victor’s chicken may have been undercooked since he rushed it.
Answer to the activity: Students may not have cleaned their hands after visiting the petting farm.
Hand out the Healthy Families Newsletter in English or Spanish, which also includes these tips, so that families can continue discussing food safety at home.