What Is FDQI and How Do I Become FDQI Certified?

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SafetyChain Software
Contributing Writer

FDQI stands for Food Defense Qualified Individual. Under the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) Intentional Adulteration (IA) Rule set forth by the FDA, food companies that fall under the rule’s governance must appoint an FDQI. Here, we explore what that means for your company and how you can ensure you have a FDQI in place to achieve compliance.

What is an FDQI Responsible for?

A facility’s FDQI is responsible for developing a site-specific Food Defense Plan, conducting the plant’s vulnerability assessments, and overseeing the management and deployment of any additional practices related to food defense. This means the individual should understand the IA Rule requirements and how to implement them, effectively train employees to use validated procedures, and monitor procedures to identify deviations and prevent reoccurrence.

How Does Someone Receive FDQI Certification?

While all employees of food manufacturers under the FSMA IA Rule must complete food defense awareness training, only FDQIs need certification. It’s also possible for an FDQI to establish that they’ve been trained without any FSPCA courses via education and/or on-the-job training, as long as it has been documented.

Here are two of the options available for receiving certification as an FDQI:

  • Key Activity Types (KAT) Training: This fee-based, FDA-recognized course is offered by the Food Safety Preventive Controls Alliance (FSPCA) and provides a certificate upon completion of training. It helps enrollees learn to identify KATs, which is an important step for conducting a vulnerability assessment when preparing to build a comprehensive Food Defense Plan.

  • Identification and Explanation of Mitigation Strategies: As its name suggests, this course provides training on implementing mitigation strategies to prevent inside attackers from compromising food sources. It is available online by FSPCA and comes with a fee for certification.

  • Conducting Vulnerability Assessments: In this course, enrollees are trained to conduct the “Three Element” vulnerability assessment, which helps to determine which steps in processing should be identified as a KAT and become an actionable process step (APS). It can only be taught in-person by a lead instructor and is not available online. The Acheson Group is an excellent resource for this course, which also provides a certificate. KAT training is strongly encouraged prior to taking this course.

The FDA began enforcing IA Rule compliance in March 2020, so if you don't have one yet, now is the time to appoint and train an FDQI in your facility.

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