Megan Coy-Moran, AIB

Be Confident in Your PCQI’s Training

By Megan Coy Moran
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Megan Coy-Moran, AIB

The importance of the PCQI’s many responsibilities means they need to have the necessary training and skills for the creation, application, and verification of these and other measures as applicable to their facility.

With allergens being the leading cause of recalls in the U.S., accounting for approximately 47 percent of recalls as of the most recent FDA reportable food registry annual report, FDA has placed “an emphasis on preventing allergen contamination, protecting consumers, and reducing the need for food recalls.” So, when FDA makes allergen control a priority, how can you be confident that it is a priority for your team and in your facility? By providing your designated Preventive Controls Qualified Individual (PCQI) with the right PCQI training.

Introduced in the Preventative Controls for Human Food Regulation final rule that exists within the FDA’s Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), a PCQI is required to be on staff in all food and beverage facilities registered under section 415 of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C) Act. In this role, the PCQI oversees development of the Food Safety Plan, hazard analysis, preventive controls, verification activities, and validation of process preventive controls. Further, FSMA mandates that all food manufacturing facilities conduct Hazard analysis and risk-based preventive controls (HARPC), while also implementing science-based preventive control measures to reduce the potential risk of food product adulteration. Each of these are managed by the PCQI and critical to achieving food safety.

With the goal of preventing foodborne illness and maintaining compliance with the FDA, the PCQI also needs to possess an in-depth knowledge of the facility’s Environmental Monitoring Program, food allergen controls, sanitation controls, supply chain controls, and recall plan. The importance of the PCQI’s many responsibilities means they need to have the necessary training and skills for the creation, application, and verification of these and other measures as applicable to their facility.

The PCQI’s oversight and familiarity with the Food Safety Plan also suggests they are likely the primary contact when FDA arrives at your facility for an inspection. Their ability to answer the inspector’s questions and successfully manage this process helps ensure that those visits are as concise and positive as possible. Having this single point of contact is also beneficial for the inspector, as they know they can count on the PCQI as a resource to provide them with necessary information without having to chase down multiple sources. Too, having a PCQI on site makes it easier to then implement regulatory requirements and any necessary preventive controls within the designated time, as they are already familiar with the facility and team.

The best PCQI training will prompt participants to think through real-world scenarios, preparing them to identify best practices to achieve food safety. By then putting this theory into practice in their facilities, they will help ensure compliance. Further, it is important that any course they take features consistently updated information, so you can be assured that what they are being trained on is current and accurate. For instance, when the U.S. Congress passed and President Biden signed the FASTER Act into law in April 2021, including sesame as an allergen of concern, this was an important update. As new information becomes available, their training should remain timely and accurate, ensuring that the experience is relevant and responsive to changing regulations.

Because production right now is priority and many teams are short-staffed, it can be difficult for some to find the time to travel to participate in an in-person training course. This makes online training appealing, as it can be completed when time becomes available, while also saving on travel costs.

With the right training, your PCQI will be an invaluable member of your team. By aligning priorities with regulators and prioritizing food safety throughout their responsibilities, they will improve your facility’s ability to produce safe food.

With our PCQI Online training, your PCQI will be an invaluable member of your team. By aligning priorities with regulators and prioritizing food safety throughout their responsibilities, they will improve your facility’s ability to produce safe food.

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