FDA reviewing part of animal feed rule after fury over spent grains proposal

By Jane Byrne

- Last updated on GMT

FDA reviewing part of animal feed rule after fury over spent grains proposal
The US regulator said it is re-evaluating a section of the animal feed rule that brings a brewing by-product, used as feed, under the regulation after an angry reaction from feed users and the brewing industry.

The US National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF), in a letter to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) last week, said the draft animal feed rule would make it harder to use a by-product of beer manufacturer – spent brewer grains - as animal feed. 

“The regulation of spent brewers’ grains under the animal feed rule will result in unnecessary increased costs to dairy producers, since brewers’ will pass on increased costs of spent brewers’ grains without any appreciable change in feed safety,” ​said the trade group, which represents over 32,000 dairy farmers.

Revised language

In October last year, the FDA proposed a rule on current good manufacturing practice, hazard analysis, and risk-based preventive controls for food for animals as part of its Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) rule-making initiatives.

Yesterday, Megan Bensette, a communications spokesperson for the FDA, told FeedNavigator that the agency anticipated some of these issues when it requested comment on the proposed rule and she said the FDA is already reviewing the extensive input received from brewers and others. 

We know there are concerns about the impact of this proposed rule on the brewing community, and we further understand that brewers who are small businesses also have questions about how the proposed rule might affect them.​ 

We recognize this is an area that should be addressed and will reach out to those concerned.  

When the agency proposes revised language for this rule later this summer, we will include more on this issue and welcome comments,”​ she added. 

Exemption sought

The milk producer lobby, along with the US Beer Institute and the American Malting Barley Association, asked the FDA last week to use its authority under the FSMA to exempt the brewing by-product from the new legislation.

“For spent brewers’ grains, the rule contains the flawed and erroneous assumption that the mere act of separating insoluble particulates during brewing amounts to a separate manufacturing process.  

This transforms an exempt activity into a non-exempt activity, triggering regulation if the by-products or residue of beverage alcohol manufacture are used as animal food,” ​added the trade group. 

Burdens for brewers and for farmers

The FSMA animal rule, as it stands, would mean brewers would have to meet the same standards as livestock manufacturers, imposing new sanitary handling procedures, record keeping and other food safety processes on the industry, said the dairy association.

Last month, the US Brewers Association said that, in the absence of any evidence that breweries’ spent grains, as currently handled, cause hazards to animals or humans, the proposed rules create new and onerous burdens for brewers and for farmers who may no longer receive spent grain and will have to purchase additional feed. 

“Farmers appreciate the ‘wet’ grains from breweries because it helps provide hydration for the animals.

Brewers’ grains have been used as cattle feed for centuries, and the practice is generally considered safe. We ask the FDA to conduct a risk assessment of the use of spent brewers’ grain by farmers prior to imposing expensive new regulations and controls,” ​said the association.

US Senators Susan Collins and Angus King also weighed in on the debate in March, urging the FDA to consider the economic effect of regulating spent grains when crafting a final rule. 

And Senator Mark Udall of Colorado said that “the FDA needs to ensure our food supply remains safe, but its new proposed rule may unjustifiably hurt Colorado's brewers and farmers.”

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