The Food and Drug Administration confirmed Friday it will revise controversial rules governing safety of brewers' grains for animal feed as proposed in the Food Safety and Modernization Act.
The rules gained attention in March and early April, when brewers and livestock groups suggested that adhering to the rules would outweigh any benefit brewers received from selling or donating spent grains – the material left over as part of the brewing process – to livestock farmers.
According to the FDA's initial proposal summary, distillers and brewers who sell the spent grains as feed would have had to follow strict feed manufacturing, processing, or storage regulations as outlined in the rule's Hazard Analysis and Risk-Based Preventive Controls section.
Following the proposal's release, FDA allowed time for stakeholders to discuss the pros and cons of the plan via a comment period on the Federal Register. When the comment period closed on March 31, groups had submitted requests for a re-write on the proposal.
A handful of lawmakers even suggested a legislative fix for the animal feed regulations. On Thursday, however, FDA’s deputy commissioner for Foods and Veterinary Medicine Michael Taylor addressed the concerns in an FDA Voice blog:
"We’ve heard from trade groups and members of Congress, as well as individual breweries raising concerns that FDA might disrupt or even eliminate this practice by making brewers, distillers, and food manufacturers comply not only with human food safety requirements but also additional, redundant animal feed standards that would impose costs without adding value for food or feed safety.
"That, of course, would not make common sense, and we’re not going to do it."
Taylor went on to note that the FDA has no intention to "discourage or disrupt" the recycling of human food by-products to animal feed. The potential for any animal safety hazard to result from this practice is minimal, provided the manufacturer takes steps to ensure consumption hazards are avoided, Taylor adds.
Taylor also suggests that the livestock and brewers' interpretation of the proposed rule was understandable, and the rules will be clarified:
"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. In fact, we invited comment on practical ways to address by-products in keeping with their minimal potential risk.
"We will take the necessary steps to clarify our intent in the rules themselves so there can be no confusion. As we previously announced, this summer we plan to issue revised proposals for comment on several key FSMA issues and we will include changes consistent with the points I’ve outlined in this blog."
For more, read FDA's Q & A for Brewers/Distillers on the FSMA Proposed Rule for Preventive Controls for Animal Food