One of the pleasures of warm weather, al fresco dining is a great way to savor good food, company and the great outdoors. Just be sure you do it safely.
Dirt, dust and pathogenic microbes can linger on produce. Wash fresh produce before consuming it. The only exception is are pre-bagged salads and leafy greens. For most fruits and vegetables, thoroughly wash in cold water. Wash spinach or salad greens in a bowl of water and rinse them gently to remove dirt and other contaminants.
Give extra attention to fruits with stems, such as apples, pears and peaches. You may be tempted to forego washing fruit with a rind, since you won't be eating the rind. But, it's still important to wash oranges, avocados and melons. Pathogens can linger in unwashed crevices and transfer to your hands or the knife you use to cut the fruit. In addition, wash items you'll peel such as carrots and cucumbers for the same reason.
If you'll be grilling at home, remember to always marinate meat in the refrigerator, never on the kitchen counter or outdoors. Discard any extra marinade that's touched raw meat.
Grill food thoroughly, using a thermometer to ensure the proper internal temperature: 145 F for steaks and fish, 160 F for pork, hot dogs and hamburgers and 165 F for poultry. Keep finished meats hot until you serve by moving them to the side of the grill rack, away from the coals or highest flame on your gas grill. Avoid cross contamination by using separate serving plates and utensils for different meats and vegetables.
If you'll be grilling away from home, consider purchasing pre-formed patties for burgers and pre-cut poultry. This minimizes the amount of handling meat requires and can help minimize the risk of bacteria and cross contamination.