What Does a PCQI Do?

Food manufacturers have a responsibility to consumers and their company to manage risk and ensure food safety. Being prepared means having a trained PCQI on staff to develop and monitor the Food Safety Plan, and respond to any food safety issues. Are you up to date on the responsibilities of a PCQI?


PCQI stands for “Preventive Controls Qualified Individual”. So, what does that mean and what is the PCQI’s role?


Since FSMA (the Food Safety Modernization Act) was signed into law in 2011, there has been a shift in how the safety of the food supply is regulated. Before, the focus was on responding to contamination. After this change in legislation, the focus has shifted to prevention of contamination and the production of safe and clean food.

This means that the greater number of food manufacturers are required to develop a Food Safety Plan. The person who is responsible for the oversight of such a plan is known as the Preventive Controls Qualified Individual or PCQI. To comply with the current laws, many food processing companies must hire a PCQI or train existing personnel so an acceptable Food Safety Plan can be created and well implemented.


A PCQI’s broad responsibilities include, but are not limited to:

• Creation of the Food Safety plan

• Verification of the preventive controls

• Reviewing the records

• Periodic evaluation and adjustment of the Food Safety Plan

Depending on the experience of the PCQI, they will either oversee or perform these duties.

One of the major mistakes companies make is hiring an underqualified or underprepared PCQI. It’s best to have a couple of people trained up as PCQIs so that companies will always have at least one PCQI available at all times.

The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) states that every FDA registered food processing company must have at least one Preventive Controls Qualified Individual. The PCQI role is to make sure that the company’s food safety and protocols are improved, and foodborne hazards and risks are well analyzed and preventive controls are used and documented.

If the company is also a receiving  ingredients or foods from outside of the United States, it must also comply with Foreign Supplier Verification Program requirements. The job of a PCQI is to make sure that the food imported for consumption or further processing in the U.S. follows and complies with FSMA requirements.


The first step is to ensure appropriate and comprehensive training. Under FSMA, the Preventive Controls for Human Food Rule holds that PCQIs “must have successfully completed training in the development and application of risk-based preventive controls at least equivalent to that received under a standardized curriculum recognized as adequate by the FDA or otherwise qualified through job experience to develop and apply a food safety system.” (FSMA, 117.180 (c) (1))

Robust training and the opportunity to practice good decision-making will give a plant a leg up in creating, implementing and maintaining a strong Food Safety Plan and culture. Ultimately, a high quality training program will have a return on investment for the company when they successfully pass both, internal and FDA audits.

ImEPIK is an online training company that offers an interactive, 100% online learning experience. You will learn at your own pace and when you have time to focus on learning. No webinars or scheduled virtual sessions are required, and the course is FDA recognized. By choosing ImEPIK as your PCQI training provider, you and your staff will obtain the knowledge and skills needed to apply cGMPs, HACCP and preventive controls food safety practices for your company. The course also offers scenarios in are in a simulated work environment and that are sector specific. Products covered include baked goods, produce, dairy, ready-to-eat foods, and cannabis infused edibles.

Our PCQI course is 100% online and there are no webinars or virtually classrooms to attend.

Access the training from any computer, laptop or tablet. Take the course whenever and wherever you so desire.

Most importantly, you will get your personalized certificate of completion to place in your Food Safety Plan. Enroll in our PCQI course today!