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National Agriculture in the Classroom

Agricultural Literacy Curriculum Matrix

Companion Resource

California Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom

Food Safety from Farm to Fork: Mighty Microbes

In this activity, students, acting as epidemiologists, look at the facts of an outbreak and determine the source and cause of an illness that makes many picnickers sick. Interpreting data tables, classifying, and reading are incorporated into this investigative epidemiological mystery. This activity can supplement any lesson on food safety.

Time to Complete
Two 50-minute sessions
  • What Caused the Illness? student page, 1 per student
  • What Caused the Foodborne Illness? Dichotomous Key, 1 per student
  • Samples of newspaper articles
  1. Explain to the students that they will become epidemiologists and determine the cause of an illness that affected many people in a community. Have someone read the dictionary definition for “epidemiology” and discuss its meaning. Also, discuss that actual epidemiology cases are much more complex than the hypothetical case they are about to analyze.
  2. As a class read the foodborne illness outbreak scenario on the What Caused the Illness? handout.
  3. Discuss the terms “outbreak” and “dichotomous,” as well as any others the students may find difficult. Create a class vocabulary list if necessary. Have student duos complete the activity as described on the student worksheet. 

NOTE: Have newspaper articles handy for students to use as a guideline for writing their news article as described in the handout.

File, Map, or Graphic
California Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom

This activity was sponsored by the Alliance for Food and Farming and the California Beef Council

Lessons Associated with this Resource