Summer Food Safety Lesson Plan

Instructor: Christopher Muscato

Chris has a master's degree in history and teaches at the University of Northern Colorado.

With this lesson plan, your students are going to explore issues of food safety unique to summer time. They will test this using scientific experiments for bacterial growth.

Learning Objectives

Upon completion, students will be able to:

  • Correlate between food safety procedures and bacterial growth rates
  • Test bacterial growth using scientific procedures
  • Identify food safety issues unique to summertime


  • Primary experiment: 1 day
  • Entire project: 5-7 days

Curriculum Standards


Follow precisely a complex multistep procedure when carrying out experiments, taking measurements, or performing technical tasks, attending to special cases or exceptions defined in the text.


Translate quantitative or technical information expressed in words in a text into visual form (e.g., a table or chart) and translate information expressed visually or mathematically (e.g., in an equation) into words.

  • HS-LS1-1

Construct an explanation based on valid and reliable evidence obtained from a variety of sources (including students' own investigations, models, theories, simulations, peer review) and the assumption that theories and laws that describe the natural world operate today as they did in the past and will continue to do so in the future.


  • Print outs of the FDA Outdoor Food Safety Guidelines (found through a quick internet search)
  • Several types of common picnic foods
  • Petri dishes with agar
  • Cotton swabs
  • Coolers
  • Ice or ice packs
  • Thermometers


  • Begin by discussing general food safety. You may consider handing out copies of FDA Outdoor Food Safety Guidelines and incorporating that into your discussion.
    • Ask students to talk about food safety guidelines, and why they matter.
    • Ask them what we are trying to prevent, and how we do it.
    • Also remind them that all food is covered in bacteria, but that not all bacteria is bad. Some of the bacteria we ingest with our food is not only helpful, but necessary.
  • Tell students that summer is one time when people have the most issues with food safety.
    • Ask students to theorize as to why that is, and discuss.

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