The Food and Drug Administration is going back to the drawing board with its spent grain regulations after the response from the brewing industry.
As we discussed previously, back in October 2013, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) proposed a rule as part of the Food Safety Modernization Act to establish best practices for manufacturing animal feed. Under that definition, craft breweries would be labeled animal feed manufacturers and be regulated as such by the FDA because of the widespread practice of sending spent grain to farms. The regulations looked a bit unrealistic and burdensome for brewers, and the industry spoke out. Here is what the Brewers Association said about the language in the rule:
The current rule proposal represents an unwarranted burden for all brewers. Many of the more than 2,700 small and independent craft breweries that operate throughout the United States provide spent grain to local farms for use as animal feed. The proposed FDA rules on animal feed could lead to significantly increased costs and disruption in the handling of spent grain. Brewers of all sizes must either adhere to new processes, testing requirements, recordkeeping and other regulatory requirements or send their spent grain to landfills, wasting a reliable food source for farm animals and triggering a significant economic and environmental cost.
Absent evidence that breweries’ spent grains as currently handled cause any hazards to animals or humans, the proposed rules create new and onerous burdens for brewers and for farmers who may no longer receive spent grain and will have to purchase additional feed. Farmers also appreciate the ‘wet’ grains from breweries because it helps provide hydration for the animals.
Brewers’ grains have been used as cattle feed for centuries, and the practice is generally considered safe. We ask the FDA to conduct a risk assessment of the use of spent brewers’ grain by farmers prior to imposing expensive new regulations and controls.
Well, it looks like the FDA is listening and is now reviewing the rule and considering revised language. From an FDA statement:
“We anticipated some of these issues when we requested comment on the proposed rule and are already reviewing the extensive input received from brewers and others. We recognize this is an area that should be addressed and will reach out to those concerned. When the agency proposes revised language for this rule later this summer, we will include more on this issue and welcome comments.”
Obviously, the regulator could emerge from this process with similar language, but for now this is positive news for craft brewers and a nice indicator that industry concerns are being heard and considered. We will keep you posted as this develops.