- Traditionally, beer brewers have passed on spent grain to farmers to use as free or low cost livestock feed.
- Under the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) proposed rule on “Current Good Manufacturing Practice and Hazard Analysis and Risk-Based Preventive Controls for Food for Animals” under the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), that practice makes them "animal feed producers" subject to regulation of that category.
- Beer industry groups, like the Brewers Association, Beer Institute and the American Malting Barley Association have called for an exemption for brewers because that classification would prove burdensome and likely hurt farmers who would be deprived of the brewer grain.
Chris Thorne, Beer Institute Vice President of Communications said: “This regulation is onerous and expensive, but really it’s just unnecessary. There has never been a single reported negative incidence with spent grain.” He was “cautiously optimistic” about the FDA response to the brewers' plea for reconsideration.
The Brewers Association points out that with such a burden of codified processes, brewers would likely opt to throw out their spent grain rather than passing it on to farmers, which would be, "wasting a reliable food source for farm animals and triggering a significant economic and environmental cost." There is no indication that there is any risk in feeding spent grain to animals, and it is a practice that has been going on for centuries.
They do make a compelling argument, and we shall have to see if Thorne's optimism is warranted when the FDA reveals its final decision.