Feed Bites

Animal Food Safety Requires Knowledgeable Coaching

Written by: Gary Huddleston   |   January 20, 2023

Feed safety, Education

College football fans know that a successful team requires a knowledgeable head coach. But how many assistant coaches do you think most college football teams have? And how does this compare to animal food safety?

The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) rules allow teams to have a head coach, nine assistant coaches and four graduate assistants, all authorized for hands-on work with players. The NCAA rules also allow five strength and conditioning coordinators, for a total of 19 coaches! The average Division I-A college football team consists of 105 players, so that’s a ratio of one coach for every five to six players!

The head coach of a football team sets the overall vision and strategy on how to successfully win games, but the assistant coaches, graduate assistants and strength and conditioning coordinators must be thoroughly familiar with that vision and strategy to properly prepare the players to become a winning team. 

When we first became aware of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) requirements for animal food manufacturing facilities, we learned that every facility must name a preventive controls qualified individual (PCQI). The PQCI is the person in charge of developing and executing a food safety plan for the facility.

PCQIs are qualified through either successfully completing training, at least equivalent to the standardized curriculum recognized as adequate by the Food and Drug Administration, or through job experience. Most facilities choose to send their designated PCQI to the Food Safety Preventive Controls Alliance (FSPCA) training for animal food. In 2016, the FSPCA began training lead instructors, who then quickly began training industry PCQIs.

I attended the very first lead instructor training and quickly began training animal food PCQIs. Paul Davis, Ph.D., the American Feed Industry Association’s director of quality, animal food safety and education, is also a lead instructor. Since 2016, the AFIA has successfully trained over 900 industry PCQIs.

In the early years of FSMA compliance, most facilities made sure they had at least one trained PCQI on staff. That person became the “food safety head coach.” However, facilities quickly learned how vulnerable they were if they only had one trained PCQI. That employee could leave the company or facility, leaving the site without a PCQI on staff, or that employee could be out of the plant at a critical time, such as during an inspection.

Over time, facilities began seeing the benefits of having multiple trained PCQIs at their facilities. Not only would this remove the possibility of being left in a vulnerable position, but they also saw the value that multiple trained PCQIs could have in carrying out the vision and strategy of the food safety plan. Some larger feed companies have also seen benefits of putting some of its corporate staff members through the PCQI training. We’re even beginning to see some facilities approach a ratio of one trained PCQI for every five to six employees!

Just as good assistant coaches make a football team successful, several trained PCQIs make a facility’s food safety system stronger.

The AFIA is ready to help with members’ PCQI training needs. Our next open course is planned for July 25-27, in Nashville, Tenn. We also conduct onsite, custom trainings for companies upon request. If you are interested in learning more about how we can help with your PCQI training needs, contact Gary Huddleston or Paul Davis.

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