Food Safety, Part 2 of 2

University of Nevada, Reno
Southern Area Cooperative Extension
Seniors CAN

Lesson Plan

Lesson: Food Safety, Part 2

Lesson Number: FS-2


The two-part “Food Safety” lesson is designed to introduce Learners to food safety during all stages of food preparation, because the older adult population currently represents the largest segment of the United States population that is considered “at-risk” for food borne illnesses.

Part 1 of the lesson covers shopping for and transporting food items as well as food safety temperatures.

Part 2 of the lesson covers food safety in the kitchen: preparing, cooking and storing food safely.

Learning Overview: The Learner will participate in a lesson designed to teach him/her basic food safety techniques.

Lesson Objectives:

  1. During the lesson, the Learner will be exposed to food safety techniques during the following stages of food preparation:
    • Food safety in the kitchen.
    • Preparing, cooking and storing food safely.
  2. During the lesson, the Learner will engage in group discussion regarding Food Safety, describing with clarity at least one example from his/her life experience.
  3. During group discussion, either spontaneously or in response to Facilitator request, the Learner will state with clarity that s/he has selected at least one idea presented during the lesson, what that idea is, and that s/he will try this idea during the following week to see if it works for him/her. Alternatively, the Learner will state with clarity that s/he does not want to try out any of the ideas presented, and the reason for the decision.


Set up at previous meeting:

Next week, we will continue to explore how we can keep ourselves healthier through food safety practices. We will review refrigerator temperatures and also talk about food safety in the kitchen including preparing, cooking and storing food safely.


Set up immediately prior to this meeting:

Facilitator prepares for the quiz activity using CFSAN’s quiz or as an optional activity, Nasco’s Food Safety Bingo.



Provided by Facilitator:

One of the following for each Learner:


Note: Facilitator should review lesson plan for this week, last week and next week because information provided at the beginning of each lesson plan is needed for smooth transition between lessons.






Fight BAC! : Four Simple Steps to Food Safety. USDA, FDA Revised Color Brochure, October 7, 2005.

The Food Keeper: A Consumer Guide to Food Quality & Safe Handling. Brochure developed by Food Marketing Institute with Cornell University, Institute of Food Science, Cornell Cooperative Extension. Published 2002.

To Your Health! Food Safety for Seniors. FDA/USDA booklet, Updated 2006. Use a Food Thermometer. USDA/FSIS Brochure, Slightly Revised October 2003. The American Dietetic Association and ConAgra Foods Foundation Home Safety Website: Food Safety Facts and Figures. Web pages last viewed on June 1, 2008.

Environmental Nutrition, July 2004, Volume 27, Number 7, Hillary Wright, M.Ed.RD. Food Safety, Preparation, and Storage Tips: Cutting Boards. Material written by Mary Abgrall and Scottie Misner, April 1998, Cooperative Extension, College of Agriculture & Life Sciences, the University of Arizona.

USDA, FSIS, Consumer Education and Information, 2005. Refrigeration and Food Safety. USDA, Jan/Feb 1991; Revised March 2003. The Unwelcome Dinner Guest: Preventing Foodborne Illness. Publication no. FDA 00-2244. (Access date: 7/12/08).


Begin Lesson:

Transition from last week

Last week we talked about (name of last week’s unit). Each of us selected one idea to try out. Let’s talk about how those worked (or didn’t work) for us, and also what we learned from last week’s meeting.

Anticipatory Set:

Last week, we talked about why food safety is important. We said that:

  1. The CDC states that 76 million people will become sick by eating contaminated food and categorize seniors as an “at risk” group.
  2. Foods contaminated by harmful bacteria and viruses, like E. coli, can cause a food borne illness.
  3. Food poison can be prevented by understand and practicing safe food handling techniques.

We then talked about food safety during the first stages of food handling including shopping and transporting food from the store to home. We also discussed food safety temperatures.

Share the Objective:

  1. During the lesson today, we will be discussing food safety techniques during the remaining stages of food handling:
    1. Food safety in the kitchen.
    2. Preparing, cooking and storing food safely.
  2. During this lesson, I will be providing information, but it is also important that we share information and ask questions in group discussion. I would appreciate it if each of you could bring up at least one example from your life experience.
  3. Also during the lesson today, I’m going to ask each of you to select one idea from the lesson to try out on your own over the next week. I’ll pick one, too. Then each of us can share with the group next week how it worked out.

Share the Handouts:

These summarize the main ideas we will be discussing today. [Pass out lesson fact sheets.] Please feel free to take notes and ask questions as they arise.


I. Food poisoning outbreaks in local restaurants are exposed in attentiongrabbing newspaper articles. Yet food borne illness occurs just as often, if not more frequently, at home. The simple cause is that many people do not use safe food handling practices in their own kitchen. Food can become contaminated with illness-causing bacteria during every stage of contact with food. Since older adults are at greatest risk, it is important to practice food safety techniques in our own kitchen.

II. Food Safety in the Kitchen

  1. Hand washing: It’s important to wash hands before, during and after cooking and eating. We talked about and practiced proper hand washing back when we talked about ways to prevent illness. Hands should be washed particularly before and after handling foods that are more likely to harbor harmful bacteria, such as raw chicken.
    1. Food borne illnesses could be reduced by nearly half if people washed their hands more often when handling foods.
    2. How to wash hands: Use soap and warm water and rub hands soapy hands together at least 20 seconds before rinsing. Wash backs and palms of hands. Scrub between fingers. Nailbrushes are great. It’s best to dry hands on a paper towel.
  2. Cross-contamination: Occurs when bacteria and viruses are passed on from food to food, from hands to food, and from kitchen utensils and counters to food.
    1. When we talked about grocery shopping last week, we said that at the grocery store, we should make sure that packages of raw meat, fish, and poultry should not drip onto other foods, especially food that we eat raw, like fruits and vegetables. That is a way to prevent cross-contamination— bacteria from the meat juices dripping onto grapes or lettuce.
    2. Hand washing is another way to prevent crosscontamination. After you cut up raw chicken, for example, it is important that you wash your hands before handling other food. This helps you to avoid passing bacteria from the raw chicken to other food you are preparing.
    3. To prevent cross-contamination, keep cooked foods and food eaten raw away from utensils, countertops and equipment used for preparing raw meats and poultry.
    4. Sanitize cutting boards (studies show plastic to be safer) after using them. Two teaspoons chlorine bleach to one quart of warm water makes an effective and inexpensive sanitizing cleaner. Some people have two cutting boards, one for raw meats and the other for fruit and vegetables. Always discard old cutting boards that have cracks, crevices or look worn.
    5. Serve cooked foods on clean plates and clean utensils only. For example, don’t serve cooked meat on the same plate that held the meat when it was raw or serve meat with the fork used while cooking.
    6. Properly disinfect, after each use, kitchen counter tops, the sink and drain. Thoroughly clean all utensils, dishware and other kitchen tools that came into contact with foods.
    7. Wash dishcloths and sponges frequently. The sour smell they sometimes have is caused by bacterial growth.
      • a. Soak them in the water/bleach solution described above, toss in the washing machine, dishwasher or microwave damp sponges for a minute to kill germs.
      • b. Try using disposable bleach wipes to clean up in the kitchen. These are handy and inexpensive.
  3. Refrigerator/Freezer Safety
    1. Keep the refrigerator between 32° F and 40° F and check periodically using a refrigerator thermometer. A temperature over 40° F can cause bacteria to multiply and contaminate food. Keep the freezer at 0° F.
    2. Put perishable foods away as soon as you get home from the grocery store. If the food has been left out (unrefrigerated) for more than 2 hours, throw it away. If it’s 90° F or higher in the room where the food has been kept, discard after 1 hour.
    3. Make sure the refrigerator is not packed too full as the cold air must be able to circulate to keep foods safe.
    4. Raw meat, poultry, and seafood should be kept separate from other foods in the refrigerator and placed so that their juices do not drip onto other foods or surfaces within the refrigerator.
    5. Secure stored foods by using dishes, containers and food wraps that avoid spoilage. Spoiled foods that spill can lead to cross-contamination. If a food develops unsafe bacterial growth, this can contaminate other food.
    6. Clean up spills or food package leakage immediately and disinfect the refrigerator on a regular basis.
    7. Warm water and baking soda can be used to clean the refrigerator. The sodium in the baking soda kills most bacteria that may be growing in food spills. It also helps to remove spots (very mild abrasive) and reduces odors. Vinegar may also be used to eliminate strong odors though it does not kill bacteria. A very mild bleach solution or commercial cleaning product will also work.

III. Preparing, Cooking and Storing Foods

  1. Safe Food Preparation
    1. Avoid cross contamination and wash your hands
    2. Never thaw food on the kitchen counters or at room temperature. Foods can be thawed in the refrigerator or in the microwave and then prepared to cook. Another option is to immerse the frozen food in cold water. Change the water every 30 minutes to maintain the cold temperature. However, this process can be complicated if you forget about the food left in the sink. Cook thawed food promptly.
    3. If you marinate foods be sure to do so in the refrigerator, not at room temperature on the counter. Never reuse marinades, breading or coatings on meats or vegetables. Throw them away after one use.
    4. Avoid “tasting” meat, poultry, eggs, fish or shellfish when they are raw or only partially cooked.
    5. Wash all produce before eating it, including those with rinds that are not edible. Use a brush to carefully rinse and scrub fruits and vegetables under running water. Do not use bleach or soap, as these products may leach into food.
  2. Cooking Food
    1. Always cook food to the proper temperature so that harmful bacteria are destroyed.
    2. Don’t interrupt cooking. Avoid cooking food partially to finish cooking later
    3. Set the oven at 325 degrees or higher when cooking. Foods should not be cooked in the oven at lower temperatures.
    4. Use a food thermometer for poultry, all kinds of meat and casseroles. New research demonstrates that whether meat is cooked to a high enough internal temperature cannot always be determined by looking at the color of the cooked meat or the color of the juices.
      • a. Ground beef should be heated to 160 degrees F or above and a whole chicken or turkey should be heated to 180 degrees F or above. [See fact sheet for more information on internal cooking temperatures.]
      • b. With the kind of meat thermometer that stays in the meat while cooking, the metal stem on the thermometer acts a heat conductor. Therefore, you need to take temperature readings in 2 to 3 different places to avoid a false reading, as meat will be hotter around the place a thermometer has been left in. An alternative is to not leave that type of thermometer in the meat, but to instead periodically check temperature with a thermometer while cooking.
      • c. When checking meat temperature, put the thermometer in thickest, deepest part of the meat. Avoid placing thermometer near edge of pan, near a bone, or in fat.
      • d. You may have to hold burgers or chops sideways to get a proper reading.
      • e. There are different kinds of food thermometers.
        1. The traditional types of meat thermometers (liquidfilled and oven-safe bimetal) that can (but shouldn’t be) left in the food while cooking takes 1 to 2 minutes in the meat to get a proper reading. The liquid-filled kind must be placed 2 inches in the food, while the oven-safe bimetal one must go in 2 to 2 ½ inches deep.
        2. Three other types, the instant-read bimetal, the thermistor (digital) and the thermocouple (digital) can get readings in a few seconds: 15-20 seconds for instant-read, 10 seconds for the thermistor and 5 seconds for the thermocouple. They can be used in thin foods (the instant-read bimetal must be placed sideways in thin foods, but cannot be used in the oven while foods are cooking because the thermometer will be destroyed).
        3. Show Learners what each type of thermometer looks like. Digital thermometers are expensive, and quite possibly not an option for low-income Learners.
  3. Serving Food Safely
    1. You can keep foods warm after cooking in the oven at 140 degrees F or above, but do keep checking them with a food thermometer. Cold foods should be kept at 40 degrees
    2. Serve food on clean dishes with clean utensils. Don’t serve food with dishes and utensils you used during cooking. This will help you avoid cross-contamination.
    3. After serving, refrigerate or freeze foods promptly.
  4. Safe Storage of Food
    1. If a food package says, “keep refrigerated or frozen,” do so and store foods in specialized refrigerated compartments (i.e. vegetable crispers). Do not store perishable foods, like eggs, on the door shelves.
    2. Leftover should be stored in tight, shallow containers with an inch of airspace. Refrigerating or freezing immediately will allow food to cool evenly and quickly to a safe temperature. Divide large quantities into smaller ones for more convenient and safer food storage.
    3. Always label and date food, even take home foods. It is easy to forget how long something has been in the refrigerator or freezer!
    4. Fresh produce can be kept at room temperature or stored in the refrigerator or freezer. Storage times vary depending on the type of produce. Once fruits and vegetables have been cooked, refrigerate or freeze within 2 hours.

IV. “When in doubt, throw it out.”

  1. If food is obviously spoiled, moldy or past its expiration date, throw it away. Do not try to determine safety by tasting the food as this can be dangerous.
  2. If you’ve had it longer than the following “safe period,” you should throw it away. “Safe period” is:
    • 1 to 2 days for meat, fish, poultry.
    • 3 days for casseroles and cooked vegetables.
  3. It’s very important to plan ahead the amount of food you prepare. If you are making more than you will eat in a couple of days, consider making a smaller portion, inviting friends over to eat it with you, or freezing part of the food soon after you make it to enjoy at another time.
  4. As a reminder from last week’s food safety lesson: If the food has been left out (unrefrigerated) for more than 2 hours, throw it away. Exception: If it’s 90 degrees F or higher in the room where the food is, or outside when food is also outside, don’t leave it out for over an hour.

Monitoring / Discussion:

Q: Why is it important to not taste food to see if it is spoiled?

A: Can get sick by tasting. Also, might not be able to tell by taste anyhow, especially if sense of taste is not what it used to be.

Q: Does it surprise you that a food thermometer should be used when cooking hamburger?

Q: How do you feel about the idea of throwing away food if you are not sure if it is spoiled?

Q: Does anyone here have any eyesight problems that make it harder to determine if food is spoiled? What about sense of smell—have you noticed yourselves going through any changes?

Modeling and Guided Practice:


Independent Practice:

This can be done at any time during the lesson. It seems to work better when it is not done in the rush at the end of a meeting.

"I’d like for each of us to select at least one idea, from what we're learning, to try out this week. Let’s choose something easy to experiment with. Next week we can all compare our experiences and see what worked and what didn't."


Look at next week’s lesson plan for: “Set up at previous meeting.”

It begins: “Next week, we will be exploring . . ..”