The Positive Business Impacts of PCQI Training

Posted: Tuesday, October 15, 2019 by Global Food Safety Resource

By Laura Lombard

Investing in robust food safety training not only checks off the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) regulatory boxes but it can also result in measurable business impact. Food manufacturing businesses are always required to have at least one Preventive Control Qualified Individuals (PCQI) on staff to build and manage the food safety plan(s) for their manufacturing facilities. Each facility must have at least one food safety plan, although more are permitted as long as the plant’s PCQI can successfully handle the volume. It’s a good idea to have at least one back-up PCQI trained to both help support your PCQI under regular circumstances, and to be ready to step in if he or she becomes unavailable through sickness, family leave, job change, etc.

The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) requires that PCQIs have successfully completed training in the development and application of risk-based preventive controls that are at least equivalent to the training received under a standardized curriculum the FDA recognizes as adequate. PCQIs may also be otherwise qualified through job experience to develop and apply a food safety plan.


Group of young factory workers listening to their coach during training reel standing by machine unit with clipboards

Regardless of how the person serving in the role of PCQI is qualified, FDA Investigators will require the development and use of risk-based controls as set out in the standardized PCQI curriculum material.

Employees serving in the role of PCQI typically have a range of food safety experience. In more established companies they may be specialized department heads. In newer manufacturing companies, a PCQI may hold several titles and have a number of responsibilities. Ensuring that the person fulfilling the role of PCQI has the knowledge and training needed to be successful is paramount to developing an overall food safety team and culture.

And while meeting the FSMA regulation is key, there are other reasons companies should train at the PCQI level, first and foremost that it helps safeguard a company’s product quality, brand, and customer base. Having fewer food safety-related claims helps save a company the punishing cost of a recall, and also helps retain customers. What’s more, a strong commitment to PCQI training helps enhance a company’s brand reputation.

A company with a robust food safety culture has an advantage over competitors who are less stringent in their food safety and may suffer financially and reputationally from recalls and customer quality assurance complaints.  In an era when customers are increasingly interested in the quality of the food they consume, being a trusted food safety brand can make a company stand above the crowd.

One of the biggest benefits to consistent training is that it can help foster positive internal culture change, as well as worker productivity. Working on hazard analysis and defining preventive controls requires that employees show critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Team members taking a curriculum with standardized material and consistent learning objectives can reflect together to identify and document gaps and correct practices or processes. They can quickly apply their learning for more accurate analysis of the components of the food safety plan.

This is the true impact from investment in high quality instruction: it motivates employees to learn updated food safety practices, helps alter their behavior to reflect these practices, and makes it easier and more efficient to make effective decisions to safeguard the quality and safety of products. Well-trained food safety employees are a key factor in the protection of customers, the company’s brand, and the prevention of costly food recalls. In essence, a relatively small financial investment in training at the PCQI level can have a multiplier effect on the returns on that investment.


About the Author
Laura Lombard is the CEO of ImEpik, a market-driven and research-based online training company. Laura has been an entrepreneur and businesswoman throughout her career, and she joined ImEpik to expand the company’s presence in the food safety industry as well as other industrial sectors. In addition to her Master’s Degree in International Relations & Economics from Johns Hopkins SAIS, Laura has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science from the University of Kansas.

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