Bennet Welcomes FDA's Clarification of Spent Grains Rule

Decision follows Bennet's comments at March FDA hearing, Oskar Blues visit Tuesday to discuss issue

Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet today welcomed the FDA’s commitment to revising a proposed rule regarding the handling of spent grains. The proposed rule would have made it harder and more expensive for breweries to sell leftover grains as animal feed, sparking concern from Colorado’s craft brewers.

“This was a classic case of the unintended consequences and confusion that can sometimes flow from well-meaning policies and language in Washington. Sometimes, by the time it gets here to Colorado, it doesn’t make much sense,” Bennet said. “We’re glad the FDA listened to the voices of Colorado’s livestock producers and breweries, like Oskar Blues, and is recalibrating its approach appropriately.” 

Bennet heard these concerns first-hand earlier this week, on Tuesday, when he visited the Oskar Blues Brewery in Longmont. Over the past several weeks, his office has also heard from several other Colorado brewers, including New Belgium, Odell, and Coors, as well as leaders in the livestock industry.

At a March hearing of the Health, Education, Labor, and Pension Committee with the FDA, Bennet echoed the concerns of Colorado brewers and pressed FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg on the issue, asking whether the FDA had conducted an environmental analysis of large quantities of spent grains being disposed of in landfills:

“Dr. Hamburg, I have a question on the regulation of brewers’ spent grain. I represent one of the leading beer producing states in the U.S., with large and small craft brewers. If the FDA moves forward with its proposed rule, ‘Current Good Manufacturing Practice and Hazard Analysis and Risk-Based Preventive Controls for Food for Animals,’ some brewers have expressed concern that they may be unable to absorb the cost of compliance and may have no choice but to dispose of their spent grain in landfills, which could cost millions in landfill fees.  Has the FDA conducted an environmental impact analysis on the implications of landfilling large quantities of spent grains into landfills?  If so, when can we expect the analysis to be completed?”

Background on FDA’s clarification:

In a blog post this afternoon entitled “Getting it right on spent grains,” Michael Taylor, the FDA’s Deputy Commissioner for Food and Veterinary Medicine, said the FDA had no intention of disrupting or discouraging the recycling of spent grains as animal feed by imposing additional food safety standards.

“We understand how the language we used in our proposed rule could lead to the misperception that we are proposing to require human food manufacturers to establish separate animal feed safety plans and controls to cover their by-products, but it was never our intent to do so…we will take the necessary steps to clarify our intent…so there can be no confusion.”