Preventive Controls Qualified Individual: How To Qualify

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Jennifer Kinion
Contributing Writer

Under the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), food and beverage facilities regulated by the FDA are responsible for having at least one Preventive Controls Qualified Individual (PCQI). This regulation is specifically required under the Preventive Controls for Human Food regulation, which was published in September of 2015. To qualify for PCQI management, the individual must have completed required training, have the job experience, possess education, and/or have completed an FDA-recognized course. Here, we take a closer look at what it means to be a PCQI to help you ensure your facility is fully compliant.

FDA Training

Currently, there is only one FDA-recognized curriculum for PCQI training: the Food Safety Preventive Controls Alliance (FSPCA) for Preventive Controls for Human Food and Preventive Controls for Animal Food. While successful completion of the course does help to determine a person’s candidacy for becoming a PCQI, it does not guarantee qualification in itself.

Meeting Specific Needs

Food and beverage companies have multifarious food safety requirements. Thus, in many facilities, a PCQI is also expected to demonstrate expertise in other food safety principles, including HACCP, SQF, ISO 22000, and all areas of FSMA. Thus, a PCQI may hold the title of a quality assurance manager, food safety manger, or production and plant manager, for example. Their responsibilities may extend far beyond that of PCQI management alone, and in fact, they may be required to manage audits and support overarching regulatory and food safety compliance for the entire facility.

Ensuring PCQI Success

Setting your facility’s PCQI up for success relies heavily on the quality of your Food Safety Plan and the food safety processes and procedures you have in place. Managing the plan itself – as well as overseeing performance, corrective actions, and maintenance on an ongoing basis – is challenging. Providing your PCQI with digitized records can support their ability to ensure ongoing compliance. It can give them real-time reports and notifications, on-demand internal audits, and mobile forms and tools to support both regulatory and GFSI compliance. When program data is captured and processed more efficiently, PCQI professionals are better able to fulfill their roles in helping companies maintain optimal food safety facility-wide.

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