News about an FDA proposal to control animal feed is making small brewers and small farmers nervous. Both would experience increased costs of operation if this proposal goes through. Fortunately, it is open to public comment until March 31st.
Brewing uses a lot of barley. Barley is a cereal grain rich in protein and carbohydrate calories as well as a host of other important nutrients. Brewers are most interested in the starches and sugars that are extracted through the mashing process. Once those have been removed from the grain, the rest is considered waste to the brewer. For as long as there have been brewers living near farmers, these wasted grains have ended up as animal feed. A new effort from the FDA would severely threaten that relationship.
Obviously there is a need to control the products farmers feed their livestock. There is real danger to consumers of animal products if the feed used to raise them is unsafe. Brewers’ barley, however, does not fall into this category of dangerous products. This barley has already been deemed safe enough to use as a principle ingredient in a beverage for human consumption. The brewing process simply steeps the barley in 150+/- degree water for an hour or so. If the farmers are utilizing the spent grains from brewers in a timely fashion, there is little risk for bacterial growth or any other spoilage that might affect the quality of the feed. Any proposal should seek to regulate that part of the equation, if anything. From a quick google search, I wasn’t able to find any information to support a theory that brewers’ grains pose any health risk to cattle. Also, a study released by the National Institutes of Health in 1994 concluded the following:
This only helps to reaffirm the argument that farmers strongly benefit from the use of brewer’s grains as feed. Also, many small brewers reap the benefit of free haul off and disposal of this waste product. If small brewers were forced to pay for this waste to be removed, they would incur extra costs that would have to be passed on to the consumer. No one benefits from losing this relationship.
Please don’t let small brewers and farmers get caught up in this proposal. The comment period is open until March 31st. Follow the link to make your opinion heard: FDA Guidance Survey