FDA to Take “Necessary Steps” to Amend Spent Grains Proposal

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is taking “necessary steps” to clarify its intent regarding a controversial proposal to further regulate how brewers discard their spent grains, according to Michael Taylor, the administration’s deputy commissioner for foods and veterinary medicine.

Proposed revisions to the Food Safety Modernization Act would require brewers dry and package their spent grains before — as many do — selling them to farmers to use as animal feed, a centuries old practice. In response, beer manufacturers and farmers submitted comments to the FDA in the thousands, decrying the recommended mandate as unnecessarily burdensome.

Brewers and farmers haven’t been without support on Capitol Hill, either.

U.S. Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) described the measure succinctly as the “perfect example of a solution in search of a problem.”

In response to the ongoing uproar, Taylor wrote on the FDA’s blog that it has “no intention to discourage or disrupt” the practice, which those in opposition to new regulations have described as mutually beneficial.

“We’ve heard from trade groups and members of Congress as well as individual breweries raising concerns that the FDA might disrupt or even eliminate this practice by making brewers, distillers, and food manufacturers comply not only with human food safety requirements but also additional, redundant animal feed standards that would impose costs without adding value for food or feed safety,” he wrote. “That, of course, would not make common sense, and we’re not going to do it.”

In speaking for the administration, Taylor said it agrees with detractors of the proposal that recycling human food by-products to animal feed “contributes substantially to the efficiency and sustainability of our food system and is thus a good thing.”

Taylor also conceded that, as written, the language of the proposed rules could understandably be misconstrued as something more overbearing than intended.

In a previous statement sent to Brewbound, the FDA said it “anticipated some of these issues when we requested comment.”

“We are working to develop regulations that are responsive to the concerns expressed, practical for businesses, and that also help ensure that food for animals is safe and will not cause injury to animals or humans,” the statement read.

The FDA said it plans to release a revised proposal sometime this summer.

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