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News: 2014

Fat, happy on brewer's grain

April 11, 2014

By the Journal Star editorial board

The Food and Drug Administration wisely has backed off on its plans to issue new regulations on the handling of spent grain from craft brewers.

The federal agency has issued multiple statements to quiet the national backlash that erupted over its reported plans to crack down on the longtime practice of brewers to give or sell the spent grains to farmers to feed to livestock.

Humans have been drinking beer for thousands of years, based on a stone tablet found in Mesopotamia.

It surely can be assumed that cattle and other livestock have been noshing on the spent grain left over after brewing for just as long a time.

Jim Engelbart of the Empyrean Brewing Co., the state’s oldest craft brewer, told the Journal Star that his company has given away its spent grains to local farmers for at least 17 years.

“They’re doing us a favor and we’re doing them a favor,” Englebart said.

Early reports were that the new rules would be so stringent that it would require the craft brewers to dry and package the spent grain.

The owners of Zipline Brewing and Blue Blood Brewing, both based in Lincoln, say a requirement that the grains be dried and packaged would be cost-prohibitive. The Beer Institute, a trade industry group, estimated it would cost a brewery $13 million in one-time and recurring costs to meet such a standard.

Empyrean produces around 10,000 pounds of spent grain every week. What does the EPA want them to do? Truck it to the landfill? That would be ridiculous. Where’s the problem that needs to be solved?

The FDA, however, told the Beer Institute last week that the new regulations would not require drying and packaging. “We are continuing the talks we began a year ago with FDA and other industry groups to make sure the amended rule we expect this summer allows us to continue this practice of marketing spent grains in the safe, sanitary and swift manner that the industry has exhibited,” the institute said in a statement.

The FDA has more serious issues to which it should devote its resources, like the quality of imported generic drugs, which too often have been mislabeled or contaminated.

Meanwhile, the cows, steers and other grain-eating animals of all species that have been tucking into spent brewer’s grain are only getting fat and happy. They don’t need intervention by the federal government

Lincoln Journal Star