Teaching Youth Food Safety: A Game-Based Learning Experience

The game progresses from serving drinks in the Tricera-Stop to delivering prepared fruit and vegetable salads and ham sandwiches. In the Aquari-Yum level, the player can heat and serve ready-made frozen foods. They must cook the foods in a microwave, also progressing to washing and serving fresh whole fruit (Figure 3). The head chef reminds the player that placing unwashed fruit on a clean tray contaminates the tray: After washing the fruit, players must also wash the tray before picking up the clean fruit. At these levels, the player can see brown and green “contamination” on the trays, reminding them when to wash. They can choose not to wash their trays, but if they make that choice, they will serve contaminated food. In this way,

Figure 3: The rinse station. When serving produce, players need to wash it first.

players can practice when to wash and when it isn’t needed, automating in their own mind when hand and surface washing is necessary. Before leaving this part of the Theme Park, the player also learns about slicing whole, washed fruit. If they place dirty fruit on the board to cut, it will contaminate other fruit brought to the board, and they have to wash the fruit and board again. Players are able to make mistakes, but quickly learn how to fix their mistakes. They are encouraged to replay levels in order to obtain mastery, which is recognized by a star system, based on how many customers they serve and how many they make sick.

Cooking Meat and Combination Foods to the Proper Temperature

As players progress to the Outer Space Eatin’ Place, the player gains a grill and a grill cook, where they can cook frozen meats. The player must identify which temperature meat must be cooked to, and eliminate cross- contamination by washing hands and trays after they have held raw meat (Figure 4). By this point in the game, players are managing all types of food: drinks, ready-to-eat salads and sandwiches, frozen foods that need to be heated, and meat that needs to be cooked. As they leave the three Outer Space Eatin’ Place levels, they have learned all the rules and processes for preparing foods, and they can still “see” the contamination from dirty hands, raw meat, or unwashed fruits and vegetables. In the last level, the head chef gives less advice, and the player is expected to make the right decisions about washing, keeping foods separate, and cooking to the proper temperature. Players are also making more complex recipes, such as a hamburger with cooked ground meat, lettuce that has to be washed, cheese, and buns as well as drinks and salad.

Figure 4: Players are guided to use a thermometer to cook meat following USDA guidelines.


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