FDA rules make it nearly impossible for beer makers to give their grain to farmers for feed


1 Like

I used to work in a bakery that baked the bread for a busy sandwich shop. They had us delivery their bread with most of the inside of the loaf torn out (the best part IMO). We’d end up with 50 pounds of fully cooked, safe to eat bread that we’d have to throw away because the health inspector wouldn’t let us GIVE IT AWAY TO THE LOCAL FARMERS FOR THEIR PIG FEED. And then, how does this affect bakers who are using spent grains in their commercial baking?

Logic and reason are not the strongpoints of the FDA.


It is a proposed rule that has not been enacted. It subject to comment and change. There will quite possibly be hearings on the rule. There is no reason to assume that when this problem is pointed out to the FDA that they won’t modify the rule.


Maybe there are other ways the waste grain could still get some life out of it. Process it into fuel pellets?

1 Like

“I’m from the government and I’m here to help!”

Just wanted to tee one up for the usual anti-Libertarian screeds…


They have already said this was an unintended consequence and will be addressed. Not unusual with niche markets when you have to regulate the big, nasty, messy ones first and foremost.


If you read in the FAQ at the bottom, they specifically address that distiller’s grains going to farms would be regulated under the new rule. But in all the other parts, they cited no incidents where spent grains going to farms was a problem. They talked about an incident of salmonella in old ice cream transported to a farm, but not grains.

So, this is the FDA not really thinking through the ramifications of their actions. They want a blanket new rule, to address a real problem. But that real problem is an isolated problem. If it passes, this rule will get applied to all manner of things the rule has no business messing with. It’ll interject the FDA into all kinds of small farming practices where farmers get slop from nearby schools and restaurants, where it’s mostly OK with probably only a few bad incidents over the years.

Typical America. More rules. More red tape. More bullshit. Make it hard for the small guys.


So the more accurate headline is “Proposed FDA rule would make it…(etc.)”

My concern then becomes: how do I (and the brewers and farmers who don’t want this rule) do something about it?

Anger is a motivator, so give me somewhere to direct this energy, plz.


I take it you haven’t lived elsewhere? Because that’s typical of pretty much every country with a government.


I wish I could offer a more substantive suggestion, but I’m contacting local brewers who I know donate their spent grain to local farmers (and who, in a few cases, I’ve met personally) and asking them if they’re aware of this.

They probably are, but it doesn’t hurt to make sure. Hopefully they’re letting the farmers know too. The more people speak up about this the better.

I know the impact would probably be very small in national market terms, but I think this could potentially raise the price of locally grown foods from farms that use brewers’ grain, because farmers would have to switch to buying more expensive commercial feed.


Am I correct in guessing that the supporters for such a change are large scale feed producers who are looking to stifle competition?


What I find curious about this, should it be enacted, is that the animals can be packed into feed lots standing in their own excrement but we couldn’t feed them spent grains.


If you read the linked article the FDA is saying that spent grain (and facilities that produce them) will be covered by Subpart C, which it summaries like this:

The Agency proposes to require that the owner, operator, or agent in charge of a facility have and implement a written food safety plan that includes as applicable:

  • A hazard analysis;
  • Preventive controls;
  • Monitoring procedures;
  • Corrective Action procedures;
  • Verification procedures;
  • A recall plan.

If you drill down further, you’ll find that many of those bullet points apply only to cases where “hazards that are reasonably likely to occur” exist.

I can’t make out what special equipment this would require, and the claim that it would require that “the feed has to be dried, analyzed and packaged” is obvious nonsense. I really wish the curators of BoingBoing would exhibit even the a little bit of skepticism before publishing FUD.

(Text of the rule is here; search for “D. Proposed Subpart C—Hazard Analysis and Risk-Based Preventive Controls” to locate relevant section.)


Distiller grains for animal food do not only come from liquor. In fact, 99.9% of them come from ethanol plants. And there are known problems with them. So, yes, if you look at only .1% of the market, you might say there are no problems. But the other 99% has potential issues. You’re making this about something it is not.


Is this the same as feeding them grain like corn? Or is the spent grain much closer to feeding them grass? Because feeding them things other than grass is what makes animals sick and their meat bad for you. I love beer, but I’d rather see the spent grains used for fertilizer rather than feed if it results in poor animal health.

I can think of another corporate driver – large (crap) brewers wanting to stifle craft brewers and a growing consumer base with educated palates


Regulations.gov - Docket Folder Summary Docket ID: FDA-2011-N-0922

Click on the big blue Comment Now! button.


Maize is a variety of grass – as are wheat, barley, millet, and rice. The kernels are grass seeds. Even grass-fed cattle eat grass seed at least once a year when grass goes to seed.

I can agree that cattle should not only eat grass seeds. They should eat some grass too. But adding a little bit of grain to the diet probably won’t result in poor animal health.


If you read in the FAQ at the bottom, they specifically address that distiller’s grains going to farms would be regulated under the new rule.

They specifically say that distiller’s grains going to farms would be regulated by a specific subsection of the new rule - a specific subsection that in nearly every particular applies only when “a hazard that is likely to occur” exists.

From the proposed rule (emphasis mine):

For example, FDA understands that many breweries and distilleries sell
spent grains, such as brewers dried grains and distillers dried grains,
as animal food. Because those spent grains are not alcoholic beverages
themselves, and they are not in a prepackaged form that prevents any
direct human contact with the food, the Agency tentatively concludes
that subpart C of this proposed rule would apply to them.


The main target for this proposed rule is p’bly commodity ethanol plants, which recover significant expense by selling distillers grain as feed. These plants use ~ 30% of U.S. corn production, so the potential for big bucks driving bad product is large.

The drying requirement (typically producing “DDGS,” Dried Distillers Grain with Solubles) makes for stable transport and storage; the wet stuff needs special handling. Considering that ethanol plants cranked out 42.5 million tons of DDGS in 2012, with not quite 25% of that being exported, rules to cover this stuff seem sensible. The trick now is to make a sensible rule that accounts for the (much) smaller brewer’s market.