This is Bessie. That is her real name. I am happy that hers has become the face of this issue, even if it is only here on the Washington Beer Blog.

FDA Backpedals on the Spent Grain Issue

The issue is not yet settled. In part because of pressure from the brewing industry and the farming industry, the FDA is reconsidering recently proposed changes to the Food Safety Modernization Act. The agency intends to issue a revised proposal this summer. (See all of our stories on this issue.)

As we reported in March, the proposed changes would effectively eliminate the practice of farmers feeding their livestock spent grain from breweries, rerouting millions of tons of spent grain each year to the nation’s landfills. The FDA asked for public comment and apparently received plenty of it.

Brewers and farmers from across the nation voiced their concerns with the proposal, as did organizations representing those industries, but the proposal also attracted the attention of congress. The Food Safety Modernization Act, which has impacts reaching far beyond just the brewing industry, was the subject of a hearing recently on Capitol Hill and at least one Senator voiced concerns on behalf of the brewing industry, the farming industry, and the age-old relationship between the two.

FDA_Commissioner_hamburg_yo“There is no evidence of a problem… This is an example of regulatory overreach,” Senator Susan Collins told FDA Commissioner Margret Hamburg. The Senator also also called this aspect of the proposal, “An example of a solution in search of a problem.”

In her responding statement, Commissioner Hamburg said, “We actually do think this is an arena where there are sensible, reasonable solutions… This issue can be effectively addressed when we put forward a re-proposal this summer.”

See Senator Collins’ testimony and Commissioner Hamburg’s response on YouTube.

This is progress and a step in the right direction. Or, at least, it is a possible detour from a step in the wrong direction. Still, there’s no telling what the FDA will end up doing this summer when it presents a revised version of the proposal. At least they have acknowledged the concerns of the brewing and farming industries. That does not mean they will avoid doing something stupid. We will keep an eye on things as the situation progresses.

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One comment

  1. I just learned from the Brewers Association that the FDA apparently got more than 2,100 comments about the spent grain issue. That’s a lot more than they typically get during a comment period like this. The FDA will revise the proposal and then open another comment period.

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