FDA Backs down on proposal...
Some of you may have heard about the recent proposal that would have increased the cost of beer... (check it out here)
Well, not to worry, brewers! We are happy that the FDA listened to people in the brewing industry and backed down on the proposal. The Oregonian writes about why the Food & Drug Administration came up with this in the first place, and also why they decided on the reversal.
Federal food safety officials are backing down on a proposal that would have increased the price of beer and possibly put some microbreweries out of business.
Last October, the Food and Drug Administration proposed cracking down on brewers that produce spent grain and transfer it to farmers for feed. The rule would have imposed new regulations as part of an overhaul of the country's food safety system. But brewers said the proposal would have cost the industry millions of dollars to comply, with a trickle down cost to beer lovers.
The FDA reversal was welcomed by breweries nationwide, including in Oregon.
"We're happy with the rule," said Scott Mennen, vice president of brewery operations at Widmer Brothers Brewing. "The FDA listened to the brewers. They studied the issue. They came up with the right decision."
Under the reversal, companies that produce wet spent grains, fruit or vegetable peels or liquid whey while making food or beverages for humans will not be classified as animal feed manufacturers. That designation might have forced them to dry the grains – which could have cost as much as $13 million a year per facility – before shipping them to farms.
Brewers and distillers produce spent grain in the making of beer and spirits. For centuries, they've given this byproduct to farmers or distributed it for a low cost for use as a high-protein, high-fiber feed. Cows love it and the relationship saves the planet more garbage.
The FDA, worried about harmful substances ending up in the human food supply via animal feed, proposed regulating the process, prompting an outcry from brewers. So, the FDA backed down.
"They have made the changes necessary for U.S. brewers to continue to market our spent grains as we always have -- safely, with industry-best standards for testing, monitoring and management of the grains from the start of the brewing process," said Jim McGreevy, president of the Beer Institute.
Under the new proposal, brewers, distillers and other companies that manufacture byproducts for animals will have to ensure that the spent grain does not come into contact with garbage, for example, or risk becoming contaminated with harmful microbes or chemicals during distribution to farms.
Large brewers, including Widmer and Full Sail Brewing, produce tons of spent grain a year. They typically store the byproduct in silos on-site, then transfer the sloshy mix to large trailers though chutes. The grain is trucked to dairy farms in bulk. Smaller operations, which produce far less spent grain, store it in clean 55-gallon drums or new 44-gallon trash cans that farmers pick up at the brewery.
Van Havig, masterbrewer of Gigantic Brewing Co. in Southeast Portland, said the provision on storage and shipment will require brewers to keep a paper trail, tracking where the spent grain from each batch goes and what containers are used.
"This will be fine ," Havig said. "Brewers would never use anything that had trash in it before."
He said the proposal is not likely to affect the cost of beer. Tracking the shipments will only require a few minutes of paperwork a day, he said.
Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., who pressed the FDA to back down on the proposal in April, joined brewers on Friday in welcoming the reversal, saying "Oregon brewers selling or even giving spent grains to Oregon farmers would no longer face the threat of a last call."
The FDA will open up the new proposal for a 75-day comment period at the end of the month.
-- Lynne Terry at The Oregonian