PQA PLUS Certification

PQA Plus® Certification

Pork Quality Assurance® Plus (PQA Plus®) provides a framework for significant, relevant food safety standards and improved animal well-being. Pork producers pride themselves on the commitment to continuous improvement. PQA Plus is regularly revised to increase its effectiveness, incorporate new research information and ensure the program’s validity.

Maintaining its food safety tradition to ensure U.S. pork products continue to be recognized domestically and internationally as the highest quality and safest available, PQA Plus also provides information to ensure producers can measure, track and continuously improve animal well-being.

PQA Plus® Frequently Asked Questions

What is PQA Plus®?

PQA Plus is an educational program representing the industry’s commitment to continuous improvement of production practices. It addresses food safety, animal well-being, environmental stewardship, worker safety, public health and community.

How is PQA Plus structured?

There are two components to PQA Plus. First, individuals can become certified through an education program. Second, farms can receive PQA Plus site status through an on-farm site assessment with a PQA Plus Advisor PQA Plus is the industry’s way of demonstrating accountability for the pork produced, as well as a solution to customers’ (restaurants, food retailers and consumers) concerns over food safety and animal well-being.

What is revised in PQA Plus Version 3?

We Care: The We Care® ethical principles are now the chapters of this program and the ten Good Production Practices (GPPs) are sub-chapters.

Good Production Practices: The GPPs were reorganized and structured to better fit a consistent flow of materials for the caretaker that align with daily tasks formed from the We Care ethical principles. Now, the program takes you from the farm entrance (Biosecurity, etc); into the barn (work with vets, records, animals, caretakers, safety and environment); and then finishing with the community (volunteering, etc).

Testing: To be certified in PQA Plus, participants will be required to pass a test including questions related to 10 Good Production Practices (GPPs). Participants must achieve a passing score by missing no more than three of the 25 questions.

Online Certification: Producers may continue to renew their certifications online through the new interactive learning modules. The online training is divided into 14 individual modules that range from 2-14 minutes each.

Site Assessment: The PQA Plus site assessment, which aligns with the Common Swine Industry Audit, helps prepare producers for third party auditors. The assessment covers animals, facilities, caretakers and records which highlight the 27 key aspects of swine care and pre-harvest pork safety for all phases of production.

Trainers/Advisors Certifications: During face-to-face training of Trainers and Advisors, more extensive instructions and information will be shared to increase farmer interaction during PQA Plus training.

SOP: Flexibility to the certification program allows for customization for larger systems to add in the company’s SOPs.

Antibiotics: To help producers prepare for the implementation of FDA guidance 209 and 213, a 12-page Antibiotics Resource guide, and extended video coverage are included in this version of PQA Plus.

When did the revisions take place?

June 8, 2016

What are the 10 Good Production Practices (GPPs)?

1. Establish Herd Health Management Plan2. Correctly Store and Administer Animal Health Products

2. Ensure Safe, Wholesome Pork Products

3. Follow proper feed processing and feed biosecurity protocols

4. Provide Proper Care for the Pigs

5. Provide Proper Care When Handling and Transporting the Pig

6. Protect Swine and Public Health

7. Maintain Proper Workplace Safety

8. Practice Good Environmental Stewardship

9. Participate in Your Community

Who can be a Trainer or Advisor?

PQA Plus Trainer nominations are solicited by the National Pork Board. A PQA Plus Trainer eligibility is defined as one who is an animal scientist or veterinarian associated with a University, preferably with an extension appointment. On the rare occasion a state does not have that infrastructure, we are forced to look outside the university for a veterinarian who is independent of a pork producing company.A PQA Plus Advisor can be a veterinarian, university Extension specialist, or adult ag educator who conducts producer training and on-farm assessments. These individuals need a D.V.M. or B.S. or equivalent experience in Animal Science or associated field and have two years of recent, documentable swine production experience.

How do producers become certified in PQA Plus?

Producers become certified in PQA Plus by completing a PQA Plus training session conducted by an Advisor and passing the related test by missing no more than three questions out of 25. The test may be retaken twice in one session or attendance at another training session will be required.

How long does PQA Plus certification last?

Certification lasts three years. Producers with current certification are valid until their renewal date. Their current certification does not expire with the revised program.

What is a PQA Plus site assessment?

The site assessment is designed to evaluate animal care practices on farms and is conducted by a PQA Plus Advisor. This on-farm assessment includes review of records, facilities, equipment, animal care and well-being practices.

What is a PQA Plus site status?

PQA Plus site status is granted to a production site identified by a Premise Identification Number (PIN) and associated with a PQA Plus certified producer once a PQA Plus Advisor reports an on-farm site assessment has been completed at the site.

What happens if the PQA Plus Advisor finds problems during the PQA Plus assessment?

Before assessment data can be entered and site status granted, a signed written action plan needs to be completed for all non-compliances identified during the current site assessment and returned to the PQA Plus Advisor.

Why should producers participate in PQA Plus?

PQA Plus exemplifies the commitment of farmers to continuous improvement of their pig production practices. The process answers customers’ requests for significant, relevant food safety standards and improved animal welfare. The 2016 PQA Plus revision reflects the desire of pork producers to continually improve and meet higher standards.

How does a producer find a PQA Plus Advisor?

To find a PQA Plus Advisor, user our Locator tool or call the Pork Checkoff Service Center at 800-456-7675.

How long has PQA Plus been available?

Launched in 1989 as the voluntary, educational Pork Quality Assurance® program, it has been continually updated, revised and improved to meet the industry’s goals and expectations of customers and consumers. The program is revised every three years.