Douglas Powell of the Food Safety Network talked about basic hygiene and good and bad practices in the food production/preparation and fast food service industries, when he addressed a crowd of about 50 people at a recent Canadian Federation of University Women-sponsored meeting.

Powell is an associate professor in the Department of Plant Agriculture at the University of Guelph and director of the Food Safety Network, where he leads a research team that integrates scientific knowledge with public perceptions.

The Food Safety Network provides research, commentary, policy evaluation and public information on food safety issues "from farm to fork". The Food Safety Network works closely with the Canadian Research Institute for Food Safety.

Hygiene is an important aspect of disease control that everyone can literally have a hand in, Powell noted. Regular handwashing as an easy, effective disease prevention tool is a constant refrain from medical and health department officials. However, even the experts sometimes fall short of their own advice, he said.

He gave kudos to the DineSafe program for Toronto’s restaurants, in place for the last two years. It works on a system of visible green, yellow and red signage indicating to the consumer each premise’s level of food safety procedures compliance.