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Preventive Control Plan (PCP)

What Does Preventive Control Plan (PCP) Mean?

A preventive control plan (PCP) is a formal strategy used by food processing facilities to reduce or eliminate food safety hazards.

The PCP is a written document that includes a hazard analysis and a description of the control measures used to ensure food safety. Regulatory agencies like the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) require food processors to have such a plan in place.

Safeopedia Explains Preventive Control Plan (PCP)

Preventive controls are necessary to ensure that consumers are safe from food-borne illnesses, harmful chemicals, or hazardous physical objects (like shards of glass or metal shavings). These measures also protect companies from litigation.

The requirement to implement a preventive control plan applies to all U.S. food companies required to register with the FDA under section 415 of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic (FD&C) Act. This includes all food manufacturers, processors, packers, and storage companies, whether domestic or international. Exempt businesses include farms, retail food establishments, and restaurants.

Components of a PCP

A PCP ensures that food is safe for human consumption and adheres to consumer protection requirements. Its principles are based on the internationally accepted Codex Alimentarius General Principles of Food Hygiene.

A PCP includes the following elements:

  • Hazard analysis describing the biological, chemical, and physical hazards that may cause food contamination
  • Description of control measures used and evidence of their efficacy
  • Description of critical control points (CCP) in the process, such as critical limits and procedures for monitoring and taking corrective actions
  • Procedures to verify PCP implementation as written in the PCP document and its effectiveness in the prevention, elimination or reduction of food hazards to an acceptable level
  • Evidence of PCP implementation
  • Description of measures used to meet labeling, packaging, grading, standards of identity and net quantity
  • Supporting documents, such as information used to determine hazards and the rationale for identifying CCPs

Steps for an effective preventive control plan include:

  • Development of standard operating procedures (SOPs), sanitation standard operating procedures (SSOPs), and policy documents
  • Identify and control hazards
  • Identify cross-contamination points
  • Set up corrective actions
  • Train workers and maintain records
  • Implement a traceability program
  • Conduct bioterrorism and food fraud assessments
  • Validate vendor and supplier certifications
  • Set up visitor control
  • Collect data

Preventive Controls

When a food safety hazard is identified, control must be developed and implemented to minimize or prevent it from compromising the safety and quality of the product. These preventive controls include:

  • Process controls, including procedures, practices, and processes to control parameters during operations such as cooking, refrigeration, and product formulation
  • Food allergen controls, including procedures, practices, and processes to control cross-contact of allergens and ensure proper labeling of all food allergens
  • Sanitation controls, including procedures, practices and processes to ensure sanitary conditions exist in the facility to control food hazards such as environmental pathogens

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