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 Seeks To Reregulate a Regulatory Regulation

I am going to tell you about a new regulation being proposed by the Food and Drug Administration that impacts craft brewers. I’m not the first to broach this subject, I’m just spreading the word and throwing in my two cents. Any brewers and farmers who want to comment on this proposal should click here. Your comments are due by March 31.

What regulation is the regulatory change seeking to regulate? First off, you need to understand an age-old part of the brewing process.

Many craft beer fans probably know this already. When one of our typical craft breweries makes a 20-barrel batch of beer, as it does several times a week, it creates a byproduct: thousands of pounds of spent grain that the brewery must dispose of. Even our smaller breweries produce thousands of pounds of spent grain each week.

Spent grain is a fantastic food source for livestock. Most craft breweries enjoy mutually beneficial relationships with local farmers who come and haul the spent grain away to use for feed. It is a synergetic relationship benefiting the brewers, farmers, cows, pigs, chickens, and consumers. This is how it has been done for centuries.


The Food and Drug Administration is proposing a regulation that threatens this symbiotic relationship. If you want to get deep into the details, I encourage you to read more about the issue. I provide links below.

Basically, if a brewery wanted to continue to offer its spent grain as animal feed, it would need to behave as a food manufacturing facility. A whole new business, and a whole new set of regulations and requirements, essentially. Otherwise, they’d simply need to send the grain to the landfill. That is just stupid. At the very least, this new regulation needs to be more closely considered.

Is the goal of the new regulation to fill our local landfills with spent grain? Are there any other usable products the FDA would like us to throw away?



I don’t begrudge the FDA for wanting to protect the public. Here is an example of what the FDA wants to prevent. To produce fuel, ethanol manufacturers use grain which is not intended for animal or human consumption.  As I understand it, they use some serious antibiotics to protect and preserve their grain—antibiotics not intended for animals or humans. It is easy to imagine some of that grain accidentally or unscrupulously ending up in our food supply.  Presumably, that could be a very bad thing. I get it. That’s the kind of thing the FDA is trying to prevent.

But here is where I see too many twists in the FDA’s pretzel logic: The grain that craft brewers use is already a food product. In this case, the FDA is trying to prevent something that it already prevented, regulating something it has already regulated, and behaving like the mythical Department of Redundancy Department.

This new regulation does not target breweries specifically. It provides no comfort to know that the impact is unintentional. Very likely, this would negatively impact industries about which I have less interest.

The product that the breweries produce (beer) is a food product. They use a food product to produce it. Malted barley and beer are food (as I understand it, at least). Regulated and safe to consume. The brewing process does not transform the grain into something dangerous for human consumption. If spent grain is safe for you and me to eat, then it is safe for Bessie (pictured below).


The FDA is okay with huge corporations genetically modifying our food products and grains specifically grown for livestock feed, but they have a problem with this?

The FDA is supposed to protect us, I get it, but over-regulation and thoughtless regulation hurts American enterprise and, ultimately, the consumers. I fail to see how protecting Farmer Fred’s pigs from Brewer Bob’s grains help anyone except the companies who stand to get rich by hauling spent grain to the landfill.

I could go on and on, and I could go into deeper detail, but I don’t see the need. This is stupid.

I encourage all concerned parties to use the link below to submit comments to the FDA. I encourage anyone who wants to know more to read more.

Submit comments to the FDA:!submitComment;D=FDA-2011-N-0922-0019

Read more about the plan on the FDA’s website.!documentDetail;D=FDA-2011-N-0922-0002


Here’s what another local blogger has to say – NW Beer Guide:


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