You might not normally consider a training course in food safety to be an innovation. However, when you consider the impact a course can have on the actual prevention of foodborne diseases, physical and chemical adulteration of foods, and the prevention of undeclared allergens in food, the Food Safety Preventive Controls Alliance’s (FSPCA) course is an innovation. The course is the Preventive Controls for Human Food course developed by FSPCA, and recognized by FDA, that was purposely designed to train people as Preventive Controls Qualified Individuals (PCQI). This is the person who must perform or oversee certain important tasks under FSMA regulations, such as development of the Food Safety Plan and performance of the hazard analysis for each product produced in a food manufacturing facility. However, this course does more; it actually teaches the “how to” of preventing food safety hazards during food manufacturing. The course is actually taught by many other groups that have become certified as instructors, but I took the course at the Illinois Institute of Technology’s Institute for Food Safety and Health (IFSH). It was one of the most valuable lessons on prevention of food safety hazards in food manufacturing that I have experienced. It was taught by the experts involved in development of the course and manual, both of which are the most comprehensive materials I have seen for gaining knowledge on what FSMA requires and, more importantly, how to best prevent hazards in a food manufacturing facility. Some significant innovations in this course include:
- A comprehensive walk through of how to build a food safety plan for each product and group of products specific to any facility;
- An exercise where students work on a food safety plan for a mock food company that produces several different types of foods;
- Use of several different product types and hazards for discussions about correct food safety plan development.
- Design and discussion of process preventive controls for expected hazards for each product type;
- Instruction about other required types of preventive controls using the mock company product scenarios and food safety plans to cover areas where process preventive controls do not control a hazard, including food allergens, sanitation and supply-chain preventive controls;
- Use of the same food safety plan worksheets that FDA inspectors are being trained on;
- Instruction on exact verification and validation procedures; and
- Discussion of the best means to perform record-keeping and provide documentation as evidence of the preventive control of food safety hazards of all foods.
If your PCQI uses these worksheets and procedures to build your food safety plans and then implements the management of preventive controls, compliance is all but assured I highly recommend this course, not only to establish a PCQI for each of your food facilities, but also for every CEO or president who leads their company’s manufacture and sales of human food. You will learn exactly what FDA expects you to do, but, most importantly, you will learn what your company should do to prevent foodborne diseases and physical and chemical adulteration of foods, and also about the prevention of undeclared allergen risk to your customers. In a recent survey of about 400 food companies by The Acheson Group and SafetyChain, only 10 percent of the respondents reported that their Food Safety Plans were completely updated in the context of FSMA readiness. Take this course, develop your food safety plans for each facility, be prepared for FSMA requirements, and once and for all establish your company as an industry leader in food safety. One more tip: I also noticed that several IFSH students taking the course to become Preventive Control Qualified Individuals (PCQI) are also looking for jobs in the food industry. This is a good source of newly trained, expert food safety plan developers for your facilities to easily develop and then manage your food safety plan to achieve FSMA compliance. Editor’s note: Hal King originally published this blog on The Lab.
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