Remember back in October 2013, when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration came out with a proposed regulation for the proper handling of animal feed that included the spent grain brewers often send to farms to feed livestock? And then remember when the outcry from the industry was so loud that the FDA decided to reconsider its rules and revise the proposal? Well, the FDA is returning from behind closed doors with revised regulations and the Men in Black flashy-thing. What new, stringent rules for spent grain?
OK, it’s not a full on flashy-thing memory erase, but the FDA now says that brewers will not need to adhere to any new animal-feed production regulations. Breweries can continue to provide their wet spent grain to farms without needing to incorporate a ton of extra recordkeeping, handling, processing and packaging requirements. That’s the main bullet point of this update.
In the FDA’s own words:
Human food processors already complying with FDA human food safety requirements, such as brewers, would not need to implement additional preventive controls or Current Good Manufacturing Practice regulations when supplying a by-product (e.g., wet spent grains, fruit or vegetable peels, liquid whey) for animal food, except for proposed CGMPs to prevent physical and chemical contamination when holding and distributing the by-product (e.g., ensuring the by-product isn’t co-mingled with garbage). However, further processing a by-product for use as animal food (e.g., drying, pelleting, heat treatment) would require compliance with the preventive controls for animal food rule.
The above quote is from the FDA’s summary of key revisions, which is worth your time.
This whole thing started when the FDA, as part of the Food Safety Modernization Act, wrote up new rules to establish best practices for manufacturing animal feed. Under that definition, the group included craft breweries as animal feed manufacturers and would have regulated them as such.
In that reality, breweries would’ve had to figure out how to dry those wet grains, package them and send them on to the livestock without additional contamination or human contact. How would they have accomplished this? Cost estimates for implementation were in the millions. Now, we don’t have to find out.
Brewers will have to abide by some additional measures, like documenting that they have adequate storage for the byproduct that keeps it free of harmful contamination, which seems reasonable. There are still more specifics to come from the FDA, but brewers and wet-grain starved cows can rest easy tonight.