Spent Grain Woes From Your Good Ole FDA Friends

Donate your grain to farmers? Not so fast.

Today’s post comes from our good friend, colleague and craft beverage taste analysis partner,  Brook Bristow. Brook is an associate at the Greenville, SC firm of Bradford Neal Martin & Associates, PA and a supposedly good homebrewer (though no evidence has ever been offered). Thanks to Brook for the incredibly timely piece on brewers grain being fed to farm animals. This is a very daunting piece of legislation that stands to befuddle brewers for years to come.

If you’ve been to a brewery lately, then you may have noticed some spent grain sitting in a truck, trash can, or trailer that will soon be picked up by a farmer or taken to a farmer. Spent grain is the grain that brewers have used in the brewing process to make beer. After brewing a batch with the grain, it cannot be used again. In a way to help sustainable practices, local farmers, the environment, and sometimes even their own pocketbooks, many brewers across the country have found a nice side business of selling spent grains to local farmers for them to feed their animals. Now, not all brewers sell their spent grain. Many give it to the farmers for free.

Sounds pretty easy, right? A brewery saves on disposal costs of waste and a farmer gets food for their livestock. Well, not so fast. The Food and Drug Administration is considering a proposed rule that would establish best practices for manufacturing animal feed. It will require anyone falling within the sales number to have record keep procedures and safety plans. There is an exception for business who have feed sales between $500,000.00 and $2.5M. Wouldn’t a lot of breweries have feed sales less than $500,000.00 per year? Probably. However, a brewery with spent grains sales averaging less than $500,000.00 over the last three years would be subject to the rule. As would those over the $2.5M number.

The proposed rule even highlights this brewery practice:

“Section 116 of FSMA applies to animal food. However, the Agency is not aware of any animal food at alcoholic beverage facilities that would be exempt from section 418 of the FD&C Act under the proposed interpretation, and therefore is not aware of any animal food at alcoholic beverage facilities that would be exempt from proposed subpart C, ‘Hazard Analysis and Risk-Based Preventive Controls,’ for animal food. 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.


If this rule is adopted, it would require a brewery selling spent grain to prepare and implement a written food safety plan, which would include a hazard analysis, preventative controls, monitoring procedures, corrective actions, verification activities, and record keeping. In other words, a lot more paperwork to have to worry about.

If you’d like to read the entire proposed rule, then that is available here: http://www.fda.gov/Food/GuidanceRegulation/FSMA/ucm366510.htm


If you’d like to comment on the proposed rule, then you have until March 31, 2014 to do so. You may do that here: http://www.regulations.gov/#!submitComment;D=FDA-2011-N-0922-0019

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