Beer makers, farmers question proposed FDA regulations



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Posted on May 14, 2014 at 6:02 PM

Updated Wednesday, May 14 at 6:05 PM

EVERETT, Wash. -- Shawn Loring says brewing beer takes a lot of “quality ingredients, a lot of patience, and a lot of love.”

The owner of Lazy Boy Brewing in Everett also says running his small business is contingent on how he disposes of his used materials or the “spent grain” from the beer making process.

Forest Hughes, a local farmer, has always been happy to pick up the grain and feed it to the cattle at his farm outside Granite Falls.

“You get a good feed source, for a lot less money,” said Hughes.

But the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has explored regulating the process and released draft rules for the new Food Safety Modernization Act earlier this year. The act is designed to increase the safety and security of meat, poultry and other products for human consumption.  It included regulations for the spent grain.

The FDA’s Deputy Commissioner, Michael Taylor, has since backtracked on the stiff terms.

“In fact, we agree with those in industry and the sustainability community that the recycling of human food by-products to animal feed contributes substantially to the efficiency and sustainability of our food system and is thus a good thing. We have no intention to discourage or disrupt it,” said Taylor.

Federal regulators are expected to issue a final guideline by the end of the summer.

Charlie Sullivan with the Washington Brewers Guild says “The Guild is still very concerned over the FDA’s proposed rules regarding spent grain.  Although they have agreed to revisit the matter and delayed the final rulemaking process, they have yet to communicate any further intentions.

The cost to brewers and their associate farmers will have a definite negative impact on the growth of these small businesses.”

Loring says he believes the FDA, while good in its intentions, should not touch the system that’s worked for brewers and farmers across the country.

“The system now is, everybody wins,” said Loring.