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posted by janrinok on Monday April 21 2014, @12:03PM   Printer-friendly
from the but-who-will-make-a-profit? dept.

One gallon of beer yields on average about a pound of spent grain, the malted barley husks leftover after mashing and the sweet liquid is drained. It's a food grade product and for years, smaller craft brewers have donated or sold on the cheap their spent grain to farmers to feed cows and other livestock. Now The Oregonian reports that the FDA, charged with tightening the country's food safety network, has proposed a rule that strikes financial fear into the hearts of brewers and distillers nationwide which could cost the industry millions and increase the price of beer and spirits. The proposal would classify companies that distribute spent grain to farms as animal feed manufacturers, possibly forcing them to dry and package the material before distribution. The equipment and set up to do that would cost about $13 million per facility, says Scott Mennen, vice president of brewery operations at Widmer. "That would be cost prohibitive," Mennen said. "Most brewers would have to put this material in a landfill."

The FDA rule would also require brewers and distillers to keep extensive records to allow for traceability in the event of a problem, and to adopt new safety procedures, for example by storing and shipping spent grain in closed sanitized containers. "Beer prices would go up for everybody to cover the cost of the equipment and installation," says James Emmerson, executive brewmaster of Full Sail Brewing Co. The proposal has sparked an outpouring from opponents, with hundreds of comments pouring into the FDA. "This is the kind of stuff that makes government look bad," says Rep. Peter DeFazio. "It would mark a huge setback adding tons of waste to our landfills."

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  • (Score: 5, Interesting) by bucc5062 on Monday April 21 2014, @03:34PM

    by bucc5062 (699) on Monday April 21 2014, @03:34PM (#34015)

    You missed the point where the brewer had to dry and repackage the slurry as well as track it. If it was just about tracking I think they'd be able to comply without much cost added (barcode the tank, the truck record the transaction and be done). What the FDA proposes is that they need to repurpose the whole product. That is the cost sink hole and to do so for no obvious reason.

    There is common sense and nonsense, the FDA choose the latter.

    The more things change, the more they look the same
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  • (Score: 2) by clone141166 on Monday April 21 2014, @05:26PM

    by clone141166 (59) on Monday April 21 2014, @05:26PM (#34059)

    The articles themselves are very slanted towards the FDA's proposal being evil and unnecessary. But does anyone have a link to exactly what the FDA is claiming and why?

    Is there actually a legitimate reason for the FDA's concern that simply hasn't been adequately reported? If there really is some basis for them to suspect that it poses a health risk then I would rather deal with more expensive beer than risk it.

    On the other hand if it's just a result of feed-company lobbying as another poster raised then yes it's evil and unnecessary over-regulation. But the articles seem so biased. I wish journalists would at least try to present all of the points of view before sounding the battle horns and declaring everything an abomination forged by the devil.

    • (Score: 2) by sjames on Monday April 21 2014, @06:09PM

      by sjames (2882) on Monday April 21 2014, @06:09PM (#34086) Journal

      I suspect it's more a matter of reality being biased. Being shot in the chest is bad. It's not possible to write a 'non-biased' article about it where we give equal time to the health benefits.

    • (Score: 2) by bucc5062 on Monday April 21 2014, @08:53PM

      by bucc5062 (699) on Monday April 21 2014, @08:53PM (#34150)

      Here ya go []. It reads about as dry as a government proposal can be, but I think the general gist can be understood. Stop doing this so our overlords can make more money.

      I think James stated it well, the reality is biased enough. If there could be one valid and good reason go get a gunshot wound to the chest then please list it, but otherwise, how about we say its a bad idea and drop it. There has not ever been a case where cows where harmed in the use of spent grain, so how is this helping?

      The other factor not so much stated is the supplier relationship with the farmers. I have horses and buy hay from local farmers. If I get a bad set of hay from a farmer, I am not going to buy from them again or they really need to show me that it was a one off. Any farmer worth their salt will know if what they are getting is a good product for their cows and anything the impacts their product (beef/milk) will result in backlash. The best regulator in this case is the farmer and any beer maker worth their hops will know if they piss off the farmers, that will impact their product.

      I am not against regulations, but regulations that are to obvious to help anyone but a choice few fluff their pockets are not valid at all.

      The more things change, the more they look the same
      • (Score: 1) by clone141166 on Tuesday April 22 2014, @06:18AM

        by clone141166 (59) on Tuesday April 22 2014, @06:18AM (#34267)

        Thanks. Yeah the more I read about it, the more it just seems like another piece of over-regulation designed to make it harder for small businesses to compete with larger established ones. Maybe there was some small good intention initially but it seems to have been lost in the many, many feet of red tape.

  • (Score: 2) by Reziac on Tuesday April 22 2014, @03:03AM

    by Reziac (2489) on Tuesday April 22 2014, @03:03AM (#34234) Homepage

    As I say above, more like the FDA chose to justify their continued existence by finding yet another product to regulate. Scaremongering about all the things that *might* go wrong if not regulated is a great way to justify next year's budget.

    Mark my words, if they get away with this, eventually such regulation of mill-waste type livestock-feed ingredients will get all the way down to screenings and grain dust. Today I can buy screenings for an inexpensive pig ration; if it's regulated similarly to this proposal, it'll be landfill fodder instead.

    And there is no Alkibiades to come back and save us from ourselves.