Teaching Youth Food Safety: A Game-Based Learning Experience

 What are the proper temperatures at which to cook meat, poultry, or fish?

 When should a cutting board be cleaned?

What is cross-contamination?

 What type of foodborne illness can you get from cross-contamination?

 What type of foodborne illness can you get from improper cooking temperatures?

What does the game/level teach?

Discussing gaming strategies, like accessing the master mode, navigating the kitchen efficiently, or using the merging feature, can round out the discussion. Teachers can also encourage students to play at their convenience so they can try out different time management techniques.


Following best practices in food safety can prevent thousands of Americans from getting sick and reduce the number of deaths from foodborne illness and other related health complications. Education is one of the best ways to fight foodborne illness, supporting consumers with knowledge and safe behaviors around food handling. Youths ages 11 through 13 are in a critical transition when they start cooking and preparing food. Research shows this audience lacks key concepts on food safety and can benefit from tailored and interactive training for their needs and interests. Informed by research and best practices in inclusive design, our team designed Theme Park Kitchen , a game-based intervention that can be used in formal or informal settings. In the game, youth engage in a fun and safe space for learning, practicing different food safety practices such as handwashing, cooking using a thermometer, and avoiding cross-contamination. The previous version of “Theme Park Kitchen” (“Ninja Kitchen”) engaged youth in fun gameplay and shift their knowledge, attitudes, and intentions around food safety, as shown in a study with 903 middle schoolers (grades 6 – 8, from the northeastern and southwestern United States; Quick et al. 2012, 2013). We foresee the same positive transformational impact for this version of “Theme Park Kitchen.” Our research team will conduct an impact study for the game in the summer of 2024.


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