PCQI Training – What You Need to Know

PCQI Training

What You Need to Know

Food Safety and Quality Services provides a comprehensive, FDA-recognized PCQI training program. The goal is to prepare attendees to take on the role of a preventive controls qualified individual (PCQI). The curriculum for this program was developed by the Food Safety Preventive Controls Alliance (FSPCA) with input from regulatory professionals, academics and industry leaders.
PCQI Training

What is a Preventive Controls Qualified Individual (PCQI)?

Successful completion of an FDA-approved PCQI training course prepares attendees to be qualified individuals. The FDA expects qualified individuals to develop and apply risk-based prevention protocols in order to process and hold food in a safe and clean manner. They may also be qualified through job experiences to oversee food safety programs. PCQIs must supervise or personally prepare a food facility’s comprehensive written food safety plan. They are also responsible for records reviews, and for ensuring that preventive efforts are sufficient to control any identified significant hazards.

An Explanation of PCQI

From Our Lead Instructor - Lance Roberie

Why Do I Need Someone With PCQI Training?

The FDA’s Final Rule for Preventive Controls for Human Food created food-safety plan requirements for domestic and overseas facilities involved with processing, manufacturing, holding or packing food for consumption. A PCQI is expected to perform the following functions:
  • Oversee or develop the food safety plan
  • Validate certain preventive controls
  • Review records
  • Reanalyze the food safety plan
  • Approve deviations from the program
Improper documentation or oversight of the above requirements could result in a notice of violation from the FDA. So if your company must register under Section 415 of the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, you are required to have an individual with PCQI training available to create and implement a food-safety program unique to your particular needs. There are some exceptions, as well as the possibility of modified standards, depending on the facility.


The FSPCA has developed a standard curriculum for those who wish to complete their PCQI training. By completing this standardized program, prospective PCQI’s gain the education and training necessary to meet FDA requirements for a qualified individual.

There are several PCQI certification options:

  • Blended Training: With this option, participants first take a self-paced, pre-recorded online training to introduce them to the course content. After completion of the online course, participants then need to take an instructor-led part, where they take part in a series of exercises to learn how to develop a compliant food safety plan.
  • In-person Training: With this option, participants learn the course content in a live setting with a certified FSPCA instructor. Courses are available in 2 or 2.5 day classes.
  • Instructor-led Online Training: With this option, participants still learn from a live, certified FSPCA instructor, however, the training is delivered using an online platform, such as Zoom or Microsoft Teams. These courses can range from consecutive 8-hour sessions to shorter 4-hour sessions.
If you're ready to get started, your next step is to click here to view our list of upcoming FSMA Preventive Controls for Human Food classes.

Does On-the-Job Experience Replace PCQI Training?

Taking an FDA-recognized training course provides prospective PCQIs with a certificate demonstrating that they have met federal training requirements, providing a straightforward pathway to qualification. In certain other instances, however, an employee may have equivalent experience that applies.  For instance, someone who has received Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point training and implemented a previous HACCP plan may be qualified through experience if they can develop and manage a comprehensive preventive controls program in compliance with the new rule.

Can One PCQI Serve Multiple Locations?

The Preventive Controls for Human Food rule doesn’t prohibit companies from using a single PCQI at more than one location. There are also no restrictions on how far apart facilities must be under the direction of any individual PCQI. The regulations do mandate separate food-safety plans specific to each individual facility, and all of them must be prepared and overseen by a "qualified individual".

What is the Preventive Controls for Human Food Rule?

Signed into law in 2011, the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) is designed to keep the food supply safe by shifting the focus of federal enforcement from responding to contamination toward prevention.

The Preventive Controls for Human Food rule is one of seven rules enacted as part of the FSMA. The rule expands upon previous HACCP principles by specifying that preventive controls be developed for all significant hazards, whether they are process-related hazards or those that were historically controlled by pre-requisite programs in HACCP plans.

Now, all identified significant hazards must be prevented by documented monitoring programs such as those used to document CCP’s in HACCP plans. Facilities are required to have PCQI’s who prepare and maintain food safety plans, and their PCQI training and/or experience must now exceed all existing Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point-based systems.

Need Help Attaining Your PCQI Certification?

Experience on the job may qualify someone to perform the functions of a preventive controls qualified individual. Otherwise, the FDA mandates that a PCQI successfully complete training in the developing and applying of specific risk-based controls through a curriculum that is accepted by federal regulators.

Make sure your company has someone with proper PCQI training by scheduling one of our convenient face-to-face classes or in a blended online/in-person setting. View our list of upcoming FSMA Preventive Controls for Human Food classes or contact us today to request private training at your facility.

About the author

Food Safety Specialist Lance Roberie

Lance Roberie

Food Safety Consultant and Trainer

Lance Roberie has over 20 years of quality assurance and food safety experience within the food industry. Mr. Roberie holds the following certifications:

Lance and the Food Safety & Quality Services’ training curriculum will advance your team's food safety knowledge through certified training, consulting, and “real life” industry scenarios.

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