Cross Contact Challenge

This Cross Contact Challenge comes to you from Mindy Richards, a high school Family Consumer Sciences teacher, from Arizona. Mindy wanted her students to put into practice what they were learning when it came to cross-contact and cross-contamination because of the importance of it in food service. Read on to see what she has her students doing!


  • Students read the scenario, the recipe, and fill in the blanks with their imaginary group member’s name. Hyping up how important it is to keep their special person safe really helps.
  • While the class prepared for the Dirt Cup lab, Mindy took the Health Inspectors into the kitchen for instructions. She encouraged them to watch very carefully while their groups worked, asking them to write down some positive things they were seeing. No one likes to feel like they are completely failing at something. Hearing something great (and not just their mis-steps) about how they were preparing the food only encouraged the students to try harder.


  • Dirt Cup Lab Ingredients
  • Plastic Cups (16 & 9 ounce sizes)
  • Clip Board (optional, but makes it more serious & official) (affiliate link)


  • After the lab, which can be done in 43 minutes, the class discussed how it felt to have someone watching closely while making food. Were they uncomfortable? Did it make them want to do their best? What if no one is watching? Should we always still try our hardest to meet the expectations? Did they find this activity difficult? What did they learn?
  • Students responded positively to this activity. It was a nice break from their usual labs because Mindy felt like they were focusing more on the why (food safety) instead of the what (the food and techniques). Some asked if they could do this again!

Tips & Advice

  • Mindy stressed to the students before beginning that they were to not use more tools than they were allowed. They had to actually think about what they were doing instead of just replacing dirty tools. They were forced to wash before continuing.
  • Students did place their cups in the freezer while they cleaned up to help them set up a little faster.
  • At the end of the activity each group was left with an extra Dirt Cup. Students were able to decide as a group where it went. Some groups took it to a teacher, some to a friend that might need a pick-me-up and some just ate it. Student desserts were made in a 16 ounce cup, while the extra was in a 9 ounce cup.


Other Food Safety Lessons & Activities

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