WASHINGTON, D.C. — Proposed regulations that would have adversely affected the way local craft beer breweries deal with their spent grain will be revised by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Maine Republican Senator Susan Collins announced this week.
Spent grains are a byproduct of the brewing process and are traditionally used as animal feed and for compost. Regulation of such grains originally was included in a portion of the FDA’s proposed Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) published last year.
“If spent grains were included in the FSMA regulations, the cost of compliance would be particularly pronounced among Maine’s craft brewers,” Sen. Collins said in a press release. “These small businesses employ more than 1,450 people and are important to our state’s economy.”
As part of the proposed food safety rules, brewers would have been required to test their spent grains for E. coli bacteria before they could sell them or give them away for compost, silage or feed, Atlantic Brewing owner Doug Maffucci said, “which would have been insane to do.”
“It’s really been a good combination between small brewers and small farmers. It’s free to them, and it’s good for us to get it out of here,” he said.
Having to install costly testing procedures would likely have led to brewers throwing the grains away, he said, which would have been unfortunate.
Maine breweries sold $92.6 million worth of beer in 2013 and employed nearly 1,500 workers, according to the Maine Brewers’ Guild. The industry is expected to triple over the next four years.
Senator Collins and Maine Independent Senator Angus King have worked since March to get FDA officials to consider the implications of the proposed spent grain provisions.
Craft brewers on Mount Desert Island include Maffucci’s Atlantic Brewing Company and Bar Harbor Brewing Company, and Tom St. Germain’s Jack Russell’s Steakhouse and Brewery.
Atlantic Brewing operations produce around 100 metric tons of spent grains annually, Maffucci said, filling just a few truckloads. While the amount is nothing when compared to big Maine brewers such as Shipyard, most of it is now composted, and it would have been a shame to start throwing it away, he said.
“I think, to their credit, the feds realized that there were so many small-scale farmers and brewers, it would have rendered this relationship untenable, and we would have ended up throwing it into the landfill,” Maffucci said, “which was not the intention of the safe food act.”