In the intricate world of food safety, Preventive Controls Qualified Individual (PCQI) training stands out as a cornerstone for professionals seeking to elevate their expertise to new heights. This specialized training program is tailored to equip individuals with the critical skills and knowledge required to craft and manage comprehensive food safety plans, aligning with the rigorous standards of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). In this document, we cover many of the frequently asked questions regarding PCQI training, providing you with a thorough description of its requirements, benefits, and pathways to completion certificate for this new role. Dive into the depths of PCQI training to discover how it shapes experts in food safety regulatory compliance and practice under the Preventive Controls for Human Food Rule, culminating in a coveted completion certificate that solidifies the qualified individual role in enhancing food safety plans.

What is PCQI training?

PCQI training, which stands for Preventive Controls Qualified Individual training, is a specialized program designed to equip individuals with the knowledge and skills necessary to develop and implement food safety plans in accordance with the regulations outlined by the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). This training is vital for individuals who are responsible for overseeing or managing the development and maintenance of a company’s food safety system. The primary objective of PCQI training is to ensure that companies comply with FSMA regulations by implementing effective preventive controls within their food processing facilities.

These preventive controls are aimed at minimizing and mitigating potential hazards associated with food production, such as microbial contamination, allergens, chemical hazards, and physical hazards. By completing PCQI training, individuals gain an understanding of how to identify potential hazards in their operations, establish preventive control measures, monitor these controls effectively, and take corrective actions when necessary.

PCQI TrainingUnder FSMA’s Preventive Controls for Human Food Rule, a PCQI training course covers a standard curriculum leading to the proper use of preventive controls for identified hazards and risks. PCQI courses like, ImEPIK’s PCQI Online course also include a review of prerequisite programs like Current Good Manufacturing Practices (cGMPs), Sanitation Standard Operating Procedures (SSOPs), employee hygiene practices, and the principles of HACCP before moving to the types of preventive controls of hazards. Other key concepts include environmental monitoring, allergen control and supply chain verification.

PCQI skills place heavy emphasis on hazard analysis of all ingredients, that is, conducting a thorough hazard analysis based on biological, chemical, physical, or radiological hazards that could potentially occur during manufacturing processes. Moreover, participants learn about different types of preventive controls including process controls for pathogens (such as cooking, pasteurization, etc ), allergen controls (such as proper labeling), sanitation controls (such as cleaning procedures), and supply chain controls.

Overall, PCQI training serves as an essential foundation for professionals who play a crucial role in maintaining food safety standards and culture within their organization. By acquiring comprehensive knowledge on identifying potential risks and implementing appropriate measures to prevent them at every stage of production or handling process – from receiving raw materials to distributing finished products – individuals can contribute significantly towards ensuring consumer health protection while complying with regulatory requirements set forth by the FDA.

How long is the PCQI training?

The length of PCQI (Preventive Controls Qualified Individual) training can vary depending on the training provider and the format of the course. However, the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) has set a minimum requirement of 20 hours for PCQI training. This duration ensures that participants receive comprehensive instruction on preventive controls and food safety management systems.

PCQI training is designed to equip individuals with the necessary knowledge and skills to develop, implement, and manage a food safety plan in compliance with FDA regulations. The approved curriculum intends that participants are trained in preventive controls, hazard analysis, validation and verification procedures, monitoring activities, corrective actions, record-keeping requirements, and supplier approval processes.

Participants benefit from engaging in interactive exercises that allow trainees to apply their knowledge through case examples and real-life scenarios.The comprehensive nature of PCQI training demands sufficient time for individuals to practice the complexities involved in making decisions on hazards, risks and choosing appropriate preventive controls. Note that while the minimum requirement for PCQI training is 20 hours specified by the FDA, some training providers may offer longer courses exceeding this duration for assessment purposes.

Some PCQI Lead Instructors provide more extensive practical exercises to enhance participants’ understanding of preventive controls within various food industry sectors such as dairy, baked goods or ready-to-eat products. In the ImEPIK PCQI Online course learners can choose between cases and scenarios that relate to their product line as greater expertise in wet vs dry processing, microbial risks with plant-based ingredients or ready-to-eat foods may be needed. Ultimately, the time invested in PCQI training earns individuals a thorough understanding of preventive control principles necessary for safeguarding public health through effective food safety management practices.

What does PCQI training include?

PCQI training, or Preventive Controls Qualified Individual training, is a comprehensive program designed to equip individuals with the knowledge and skills necessary to develop and implement a food safety plan in accordance with the requirements of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). This training includes several key components that are essential for understanding and effectively implementing preventive controls. The Preventive Controls for Human Food Rule emphasizes that the facility’s food safety plan, while requiring good pre-requisite programs such as Current Good Manufacturing Practices (cGMPs), must document a rigorous hazard analysis and risk-based preventive controls management system.

An essential element of PCQI training is gaining an understanding of the principles of hazard analysis and risk-based preventive controls. Participants will learn how to identify potential hazards in the production process, evaluate their severity and likelihood, and establish appropriate preventive measures to mitigate those risks. This involves learning about different types of hazards such as biological, chemical, physical, allergenic, radiological, or economically motivated adulteration (EMA), as well as specific control strategies for each type.

Another crucial element covered in PCQI training is creating a robust food safety plan beyond hazard analysis and critical control point (HACCP) principles. Participants will learn how to conduct a thorough hazard analysis utilizing scientific knowledge and documented evidence and go on to other preventive controls not covered in a HACCP plan.

They will also understand how to determine critical control points (CCPs), establish critical limits for these points, monitor them effectively, establish corrective actions if deviations occur, verify the effectiveness of these actions, and maintain accurate records throughout the process.

In sum, PCQI training equips individuals with an understanding of hazard analysis rigor and risk-based preventive controls strategies specific to the identified hazard and/or risk. With this knowledge, individuals are well-prepared to develop and implement an effective food safety plan that documents management of the preventive controls and complies with FSMA regulations and protects their brand.

Does the FDA require PCQI training?

In the realm of food safety, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) plays a pivotal role in ensuring that rigorous standards are met to protect public health. Recognizing the significance of preventive measures, the FDA has taken a proactive approach by establishing regulations related to Preventive Controls for Human Food.

As part of this initiative, there is a requirement for each facility to have at least one Preventive Controls Qualified Individual (PCQI) by name on staff or in a consulting role in charge of the food safety plan. But does the FDA actually mandate PCQI training?

FDA TrainingThe short answer is that you must show that you have a named qualified person in the role of PCQI. The FDA requires that every food facility covered by the Current Good Manufacturing Practice, Hazard Analysis, and Risk-Based Preventive Controls for Human Food Rule (PCHF Rule) must have a named PCQI who has successfully completed training in the development and application of risk-based preventive controls or can show they are qualified for this role.

This training course must cover the standard curriculum recognized by the FDA and focus on various aspects such as hazard analysis, implementation of preventive controls, monitoring procedures, verification activities, corrective actions, and recordkeeping requirements. It’s best that this curriculum be under the direction of FDA Lead Instructors who have been trained in the curriculum. ImEPIK uses certified Lead Instructors for their courses to assist companies with fulfilling regulatory obligations and to help food manufacturers establish food safety culture and effective preventive control systems in their operations.

By adhering to these requirements set forth by the FDA, companies can ensure compliance with regulations while enhancing their ability to identify potential hazards proactively and mitigate risks before they reach consumers’ plates. Overall, it is clear that PCQI training is indeed a part of compliance required by the FDA for covered facilities under its jurisdiction.

This standard curriculum training ensures that those responsible for overseeing food safety management possess the necessary skills and knowledge required to implement robust preventive control measures. By mandating the qualified individual in the PCQI role, the FDA strengthens its commitment to safeguarding public health and ensuring that the highest standards of food safety are upheld throughout the food industry.

FDA may not mandate a monopoly on PCQI training. Therefore, organizations that provide completion certificates after successful training in the standard training may be ImEPIK, FSPCA or others that ensure the standard curriculum supplied by Lead Instructors.

Does PCQI training satisfy HACCP training for SQF?

One of the questions that often arises when discussing PCQI (Preventive Controls Qualified Individual) training is whether it satisfies the HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points) training requirements for SQF (Safe Quality Food).

To address this query, it is essential to understand the relationship between PCQI and HACCP, as well as the specific criteria set forth by SQF. Initially, it is important to note that PCQI training and HACCP training are not interchangeable.

While both are focused on food safety and prevention measures, they differ in their approach and scope. HACCP is a systematic approach to identifying, assessing, and controlling hazards throughout the food production process.

In contrast, PCQI focuses on the many types of preventive controls for human food as mandated by the FDA’s Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). However, despite these differences, PCQI training can indeed satisfy some of the requirements for HACCP training in certain scenarios.

According to SQF Code Edition 9.0 effective for audits, if a facility has a Preventive Controls Qualified Individual who has completed the FDA-recognized standardized PCQI curriculum or an equivalent program approved by GFSI (Global Food Safety Initiative), then they may be considered competent to develop an effective food safety plan based on HACCP principles. In essence, if an individual has successfully completed PCQI training that aligns with FDA regulations and recognized industry standards such as those set forth by FSPCA or GFSI-approved programs, they will have acquired knowledge and understanding of process preventive controls similar to what is required in traditional HACCP training.

However, it is crucial to ensure that the specific PCQI course undertaken meets these criteria so that it can adequately fulfill HACCP requirements under SQF certification. While PCQI training is not synonymous with HACCP training, it can still satisfy certain HACCP requirements for SQF certification.

It is imperative for food facilities to consult the relevant auditing certification bodies and conduct a thorough review of their specific requirements to ensure compliance and alignment between PCQI and HACCP principles in the context of SQF certification.

Do I need an advanced HACCP certification for PCQI?

One might wonder whether having an advanced Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) certification is a prerequisite for becoming a Preventive Controls Qualified Individual (PCQI). The answer to this query lies in understanding the relationship between HACCP and PCQI and the specific requirements set forth by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

While an advanced HACCP certification can undoubtedly enhance one’s understanding of food safety, it is not a mandatory requirement for PCQI. ImEPIK’s PCQI Online course provides an overview of HACCP principles for those who may not have this background knowledge.

The PCQI training program encompasses preventive controls beyond traditional HACCP principles, focusing on identifying and preventing hazards in food processing facilities. Therefore, while having prior knowledge of HACCP can be advantageous, it is not essential to possess an advanced HACCP certification to become a PCQI.

It is worth noting that PCQI training covers comprehensive aspects related to FSMA regulations, including hazard analysis, developing preventive controls, monitoring procedures, corrective actions, verification methods, recordkeeping practices, and recall plans. These components go beyond what traditional HACCP training provides.

However, individuals who have already obtained advanced HACCP certifications may find that their knowledge complements their role as a PCQI by providing additional insights into hazard identification and proper mitigation strategies. While possessing an advanced HACCP certification can contribute to one’s expertise in food safety management systems and hazard analysis principles, it is not obligatory for becoming a PCQI.

The FDA’s objective in establishing the PCQI training program was to ensure that individuals responsible for implementing preventive controls possess comprehensive knowledge that goes beyond traditional HACCP concepts. Thus, aspiring PCQIs should focus on obtaining appropriate training specific to FSMA regulations rather than solely relying on their existing HACCP certifications.

Where are PCQI classes?

PCQI classes are widely available across various locations and modalities, making it convenient for individuals seeking this training to find a suitable course. Under law, the FDA cannot mandate a monopoly provider of training, thus many reputable organizations and institutions offer PCQI classes in different cities and regions, both domestically and internationally.

At ImEPIK, we offer online PCQI training, which means you can complete your training and receive your completion certificate from anywhere in the world you have an internet connection.

ImEPIK’s PCQI Online Course© is offered in English and Spanish. It was designed by industry experts who are also FDA Lead Instructors. It includes interactive modules and virtual practice methods to provide a comprehensive learning experience. Technical assistance staff and learning coaches ensure that no one is left behind. Overall, individuals interested in attending PCQI classes have numerous options available to them both domestically and internationally.

PCQI certification is typically obtained by successfully completing the standard curriculum course recognized by the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). The ImEPIK PCQI Online course meets this criterion as a recognized provider that offers comprehensive and robust educational materials, practice activities, scenarios, case studies, and assessments.

One of the providers of PCQI training is the Food Safety Preventive Controls Alliance (FSPCA), which was established as a partnership between the Illinois Institute of Technology’s Institute for Food Safety and Health and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). FSPCA offers standardized PCQI courses with comprehensive training and case studies. Additionally, universities, professional associations, private training firms, and even local regulatory agencies may offer relevant PCQI training programs.

It is crucial for aspiring PCQIs to select a reputable provider that delivers comprehensive content and ensures an in-depth understanding of preventive control principles for effective implementation in the food industry.


PCQI training is an essential program for individuals involved in food safety management at FDA registered facilities. By successfully completing this training, professionals not only ensure compliance with FDA regulations but also gain a deep understanding of hazard analysis, risk assessment, and preventive control strategies.

This knowledge equips them to implement and maintain effective food safety systems that safeguard consumer health. They have significant responsibility for the food safety culture of their team and their company. Thus, PCQI status is a highly respected professional role.

Generally, in person classes can range from two to three days. With ImEPIK, you complete it at your pace. Participants can expect in-depth learning on topics such as hazard identification, risk assessment methodologies, monitoring procedures, corrective actions, verification activities, and record-keeping practices. PCQI training includes various elements designed to enhance participants’ understanding and application of preventive controls in a practical context with parallel references to the regulatory language.

FDA requires certain facilities that manufacture or process food for consumption in the United States to have at least one trained PCQI on staff or as a consultant. This qualified individual must be named in the food safety plan. This requirement ensures that these facilities adhere to strict guidelines aimed at preventing foodborne illnesses and ensuring consumer safety.

By obtaining a PCQI completion certificate, professionals not only comply with regulatory requirements but also demonstrate their commitment towards maintaining high standards of food safety. Overall, PCQI training offers professionals an opportunity to expand their knowledge base and move up in a QA/QC career while contributing towards safer food production practices.

Preventive Controls Qualified Individuals (PCQIs) gain a competitive edge in their field by acquiring specialized skills sought after by employers within the industry. The completion certificate is transportable to other facilities or companies. PCQI training is an investment in professional development and a commitment to the wellbeing of consumers as well as the protection of a company brand.

By diligently applying the knowledge gained from PCQI training, professionals create a safer food supply chain and contribute to a healthier society. With robust training, PCQIs can have a lasting impact on food safety for generations to come.