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Eating Outdoors Poses Food Safety Risks

Learn how to avoid spoiling the summertime party

Eating outdoors in the summer is something to look forward to for family reunions, barbecues, picnics and dinners al fresco on the patio. But food-borne bacteria, which thrive in hot weather, can put a damper on outdoor dining. Follow a few simple rules of food handling and you will enjoy delicious burgers and potato salad rather than a bellyache.

See also: Cut cancer risk from grilling meat.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration advises basic sanitary food handling practices such as washing your hands, cooking meat and poultry thoroughly, and avoiding cross-contamination of utensils and platters. When transporting food from the refrigerator to the picnic table, it is critical to keep cold foods cold and hot foods hot.

Cold foods:

  • Cold perishable food should be kept in a cooler at 40 degrees F. with ice or frozen gel packs until serving time.
  • Clean fruits and vegetables with running water and dry with a clean cloth or paper towel before packing them in the cooler.
  • Foods like chicken salads or desserts in individual serving dishes should be placed on ice in a shallow container.
  • After everyone has been served, do not keep food out for more than two hours — and make that only one hour if the temperature exceeds 90 degrees F.

Hot foods:

  • Hot foods should be kept at 140 degrees F. or above.
  • Store hot foods in an insulated container until serving.
  • As with cold foods, hot food items should not sit out for more than two hours, or one hour when the temperature is over 90 degrees F. If food has been left out longer, throw it away to be safe.

Next: Safe grilling tips and cooked foods temperature chart.>>

Safe grilling tips:

  • Marinate meats, poultry and seafood in the refrigerator or properly stored at 40 degrees F. in a cooler.
  •  Keep raw foods separate.
  • Do not use a plate or utensils that previously held raw meat, poultry or seafood without washing them in soapy water first.
  • Cook food thoroughly and bring a thermometer to be sure.

The tantalizing aroma of meat on a sizzling hot grill may be among the best things about summertime. But grilling is not only for carnivores. If your food preferences lean toward vegetables and grains, we have recipes for you too. So fire up the grill and try a few of these dishes today.

Grilled Vegetables

Even the reluctant vegetable eater will savor the smoky sweetness of zucchini, eggplant, peppers, corn and potatoes cooked on the grill. This recipe calls for a balsamic marinade, but grilled vegetables are also delicious brushed with olive oil and sprinkled with a bit of kosher salt before placing on a hot grill.

Grilled Pizza With Pancetta, Porcini and Fontina

Use this recipe to learn how easy it is to grill a pizza. Once you have the basics, add the toppings that you like. Californians love barbecued chicken pizza and ham and pineapple is popular everywhere. If you prefer cheese and vegetables only, spinach and feta cheese. Fresh pizza dough is available now in most supermarkets deli cases of make your own if you have the time.

Basic Beer-Can Chicken

Don’t be put off by the title of this recipe thinking this is too low-brow for your next backyard barbecue. The meat will be so tender it falls off the bone.

Lamb Burgers with Yogurt Cucumber Sauce

Grilled ground meat patties are a constant on the world’s barbecue trail. Greek grill masters use ground lamb instead of beef. These lamb burgers buzz with Greek flavors—garlic, oregano, and mint. A refreshing tzatziki—yogurt cucumber dip—is the sauce. To complete the Greek theme, serve the burgers on pita bread instead of buns.

Chinatown Ribs

These ribs were inspired by a popular appetizer common in Chinese restaurants, dark, shiny, and supernaturally crimson, with a candy-sweet crust and a meaty but tender inside. The ribs combine the sweetness of five-spice powder and hoisin sauce against the earthy taste of roast pork. These are some of the tastiest ribs on the planet.

Grilled Fish Steak

About 4 minutes on a side will be enough for most fish steaks such as salmon or other firm fish. There isn’t a faster meal this delicious and good for you.

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