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Beware the FSPCA Certified Training or Instructor

You are searching for a Preventive Controls for Human Foods (PCHF) course that will satisfy the requirement for a "Preventive Controls Qualified Individual" (PCQI) as part of the FSMA requirements.  You want to make the best choice, and insure the course you choose is legitimate and well designed.




These titles jump out at you, from the top of your search listings, from the paid, sponsored ads!  Beware!


The thing is, the FSPCA course is legitimate, it is well designed, there are Lead Instructors who have been specifically trained to teach the course.  But the FSPCA does not certify, accredit, or approve anyone!

The Food Safety Preventive Controls Alliance (FSPCA) is a broad-based public-private alliance centered at the Illinois Institute of Technology.  They have many legitimate stakeholders including the FDA and have created the course recognized by the FDA as the standard bearer. Any alternative course must be at least equivalent to the standardized curriculum recognized as adequate by FDA (this one).

FSPCA also trains Lead Instructors, who have taken the PCHF course, and also an additional course on instructing with the course material. Only instructors who have completed both these courses have access to the instructional materials (slides, models, instructor notes) for the  FSPCA Preventive Controls HF course.

Legal opinion suggests that the alliance cannot control everything that is said by the independent instructors, nor the actions of any individual participant.  Thus it could misplace potential liability to confer a certification of those individuals.

Thus, any organization claiming to be "certified, accredited or approved" is guilty of hyperbole, somehow wanting to convey their offering as superior.

What should you look for (and what can be said)?

  1. The course being delivered is the one created by the FSPCA, Preventive Controls for Human Food.
  2. The course material is presented using the FSPCA instructional materials.
  3. The instructor leading the course can demonstrate that they have completed both the Preventive Controls for Human Food course and also the Lead Instructor course.  This can be shown with a certificate number from their Certificate of Training (which is not the same as Certifiction).
  4. The participant that successfully completes the course will receive a numbered Certificate of Training (wich is not the same as Certification) that is issued by the FSPCA and signed by the Association of Food and Drug Officials, AFDO.

If not?

The FDA provides for quite a bit of flexibility in becoming a "Preventive Controls Qualified Individual," including the equivalent training already mentioned as well as through experience.  If this is the approach you select, be sure to do your homework so that you feel well justified in the choice.

The Good News!

There is a growing number of legitimate Lead Instructors to teach bonafide FSPCA course materials.  You can check the Event Listings in the left margin of our home page, for some of the courses we know about, as well as our own courses.

As legitimate instructors become more familiar with the language, the offending terms mentioned at the top of the article are beginning to disappear, at least where they were used inadvertently.

Of course this means to be all the more careful if you still come across a paid ad claiming "Certified!" Run!


3 Ways to be sure you are hiring a good fit
How to choose a Preventive Controls Course

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