FDA to back off bad rule on spent brewing grains?

by Walter Olson on May 1, 2014

The Food and Drug Administration is signaling that it may rethink a much-criticized rule that would severely restrict the reuse as livestock feed of “spent” grain used in the making of beer and other fermented beverages. [WLF "Legal Pulse"] That’s good news as far as it goes, but it’s a form of exception-making that would seem to be driven at least in part by the high visibility of this one particular recycling-and-sustainability constituency (microbrewery beer is a hot leisure activity, and and craft/organic animal husbandry is a popular consumer enthusiasm these days in educated urban circles as well). The implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) of 2011 is endangering a wide range of other local, non-industrial, and traditional farming and foodmaking techniques, “such as using house-made fertilizers and irrigating from creeks,” that might not enjoy the broad constituency of microbrewing. Will anyone in Washington stick up for them?

{ 4 comments }

1 Boblipton 05.01.14 at 2:33 pm

So the FDA will think about it?

I seem to recall that in Britain, the Royal veto was phrase as the the Norman French translate of “The King (or Queen) will think about it.”

Bob

2 rxc 05.01.14 at 5:22 pm

The progressives are getting real good at sending up trial balloons to see which of their supporters would be offended, and then backing off. It is like they have a bunch of different fiefs, with varying interests, and the king needs to ensure that he does not antagonize too many of the most important ones, or rile the peasants too much, lest they revolt. Quite a feudal system.

3 rxc 05.01.14 at 5:30 pm

I also just noticed that they had included the pomace from wine-making. I wonder if this is just the residue from the initial pressing, or the lees that remain after some wines are fermented. In France, the pomace from the fermentation process is collected by the government, which then distills the alcohol out of it. This (1) prevents the farmers from distilling their own (tax-free) liquor, (2) serves as a check on the amount of wine that has been made (to ensure proper taxes are collected), and (3) generates another separate revenue stream. I wonder why the US govt has not caught on to this scheme

4 tcp 05.18.14 at 9:41 pm

Sierra Nevada is the most efficient, renewable, close to net zero, beer maker in the United States. They use spent grains to make heat and electricity. The technology to do so is affordable and has very a fast payback. What breweries are fighting for now is the right to get rid of their waste. It has nothing to do with a desire to be sustainable. It’s accidentally sustainable and opportunistic. So, when they discover that their waste is an energy resource that increases profitability by reducing operating expenses, the farmers are going to lose the spent grain anyway. The debate about what the FDA does in this regard is a short term issue. Farmers should be figuring out how to turn their dairy waste,, stover, chaf, etc. into energy so they can afford the feed when they have to pay for it, which they’ll inevitably have to do.

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