Microbes can be both useful and harmful in the food industry. Microbes can be used to make food and drink, e.g. the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae is used to make bread and beer. Lactobacilli bacteria are used in yoghurt and cheese making.

However, some microbes found in food can lead to food poisoning e.g. bacterial species such as Salmonella, E. coli and Campylobacter are commonly found on raw meats and can cause diarrhoea and vomiting in humans and sometimes even death – though this is rare. Food hygiene practices can reduce the risk of foodborne illness and food spoilage.

In this lesson plan, students identify the microbes that are commonly found in different foods and learn how to improve food hygiene practices so that these microbes don't make people ill.

Learning Outcomes:

  • All students will:
  • Understand that microbes can be found on our food and can transfer to humans.
  • Understand that cooking food properly can kill harmful microbes.
  • Will understand that bacteria multiply very quickly.
  • Most students will:
  • Understand that refrigeration only stops microbes growing, it doesn’t kill them.
  • Understand the difference between “use buy” and “best before”.

Activities Include:

  • Starter Activity:
  • Class Discussion
  • Main Activity:
  • Kitchen Check
  • Extension Activities:
  • Fridge Raiders
  • Food Hygiene Quiz
  • Spot the Mistake
  • Label Sort

Curriculum Links:

  • Science:
    • Working scientifically
    • Living things and their habitats
    • Animals, including humans
  • English:
    • Reading and comprehension
    • Spoken language
    • Health and prevention
  • Design and Technology:
    • Cooking and nutrition