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Health and Safety

Activity 1

The Clean Team
by Ohio State University
Extension, Highland County

With our thanks to: Rose Fisher Merkowitz

This activity demonstrates the importance of proper hand washing and preventing cross-contamination.

Materials needed

  • Room that can be darkened enough to see Glo-Germ™ under a black light; for the hand-washing demonstration, a special box available from the Glo-Germ™ company will also work.
  • Black light.
  • Glo-Germ™ powder or oil. [Alternatives to Glo-Germ™ that are visible without a black light are fine glitter, cinnamon or paprika mixed with cooking oil, or shortening tinted with blue food dye.]
  • NASCO food model of raw meat cubes.
  • Two sets of items that could become contaminated, such as a cutting board or paper plate, plastic knife, dishtowel, plastic bag or container with flour, box of wax paper and baking pan.
  • Sink with warm running water.
  • Hand soap.
  • Paper towels.
  • Gather supplies.
  • Set up two food preparation areas. In each area, set out a cutting board or paper plate, raw meat model, plastic bag or container with flour, dishtowel, box of wax paper and baking pan.
  • Sprinkle Glo-Germ™ on the raw meat model and divide between the two preparation areas.

Doing the activity
  1. Ask for volunteers, preferably two volunteers for the hand-washing section of the demonstration and two volunteers for the cross-contamination section of the demonstration.
  2. Explain that this activity uses a powder (or other vehicle) to replicate germs.
  3. Sprinkle Glo-Germ™ on the hands of the two participants who volunteered to do the hand-washing activity. Have them rub their hands together to spread the Glo-Germ™ evenly over their hands. Ask participants, "How do people get germs on their hands?" Acknowledge participants' responses. Examples of answers might be: touching everyday items such as door handles and other people's hands, changing diapers, touching pets. blowing your nose, and handling raw meats or eggs.
  4. Have participants look at the hands of these participants under the black light.
  5. Then have one of these volunteers rinse his/her hands for just a few seconds before drying them with a paper towel. Encourage the other volunteer to wash his/her hands for at least 20 seconds using soap and water before drying them.
  6. Look at participants' hands under the black light after they have washed them. Have participants compare the two sets of hands. Discuss areas on hands that are particularly difficult to clean, such as around jewelry.
  7. Have the two participants who volunteered to demonstrate cross-contamination pretend that they are preparing raw meat for a meal. Tell them to pretend that they are cutting meat on a cutting board, pouring flour on wax paper and coating the meat with flour before putting the meat on the baking pan.
  8. Have one volunteer wash his/her hands with soap and water after each step of the meat preparation. Have the other volunteer wait until he/she is finished preparing the meat before washing his/her hands.
  9. After both volunteers have finished preparing the meat and washing their hands, use the black light to show how "bacteria from raw meat" might have spread to the cutting board, dishtowel, wax paper box, flour container and baking pan. Compare the amount of cross-contamination between the two preparation sites.
  10. Review the importance of washing hands, any equipment used to prepare food and countertops to prevent cross-contamination.


  • If participants work in food service, demonstrate how plastic gloves help prevent contamination from hands. Discuss how these gloves can help prevent the spread of germs from hands to food as well as keeping germs from food off hands. Remind participants that cross-contamination can still occur when contaminated gloves touch other items such as foods, food preparation equipment and appliance handles. Keep in mind that some people are allergic to latex, used in some gloves, and would not be able to wear latex gloves.
  • After doing the cross-contamination demonstration, discuss the importance of thoroughly cleaning cutting boards and other equipment. Discuss the use of sanitizing
    solutions such as a bleach solution when cleaning cutting boards and countertops.
  • Include a telephone in your activity. Interrupt meat preparation by having the telephone ring and asking one of the volunteers preparing meat to answer it. Discuss how germs can be spread by touching the telephone.