Garamendi & Bipartisan Coalition Urge FDA to Reconsider Rule that Would Harm Small Breweries & Increase Food Waste

Apr 17, 2014 Issues: Agriculture, Economy, Make it in America

FAIRFIELD, CA – Congressmen John Garamendi (D-CA-03) and Doug LaMalfa (R-CA-01) have led a bipartisan coalition in sending a letter to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) urging them to reconsider a proposed regulation that would needlessly harm small breweries. They were joined by a bipartisan coalition of Members, including Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA-22), Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA-14), Rep. David Valadao (R-CA-21), Rep. Ami Bera (D-CA-7), Rep. Juan Vargas (D-CA-51), Rep. Tom McClintock (R-CA-4), Rep. Sam Farr (D-CA-20), Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-CA-47), Rep. Mark Takano (D-CA-41), Rep. Ken Calvert (R-CA-42), and Rep. Jeff Denham (R-CA-10). The letter is available here and below.

Many breweries currently reuse their spent grain to feed cattle, sometimes for beef used at restaurants on premises. Under the proposed FDA regulation under the Food Safety Modernization Act, this practice would become prohibitively expensive, as breweries would be forced to dry, package, and inspect all food, including spent grain, used for cattle. This requirement is onerously expensive and unnecessary for spent grain and would make the grain practically worthless, increasing food waste and cutting into profits at small breweries.

“During tough economic times, America’s craft brewing industry has been a remarkable success story, demonstrating rapid growth and creating thousands of jobs. This is especially true in California. We should work to ensure their continued success, not impose regulations that make doing business more difficult,” Congressman Garamendi said.

“Small breweries that reuse their spent grain for cattle feed should be lauded for finding innovative ways to reuse what would otherwise be a wasted food product,” Garamendi added. “They took the old mantra to ‘reduce, reuse, and recycle’ to heart. The FDA’s food safety mission is incredibly important, but in this case, their proposed regulation is misguided. The spent grain being responsibly reused at brewpubs is not a safety concern. These breweries should not be subject to this unnecessary regulation.”

Breweries that incorporate restaurants in their facilities are already required to be registered with the FDA, abide by extensive food safety regulations, and maintain food safety records. The craft brewery industry is fast growing in America and especially in California. According to the Brewers Association, in 2013, 2,768 craft breweries operated for some or all of the year in America, creating 110,273 jobs and generating $14.3 billion in retail dollar value.

The 3rd District is home to several small breweries, including Berryessa Brewing Company in Winters, Black Dragon Brewery in Woodland, Heretic Brewing Company in Fairfield, Sudwerk Brewery in Davis, and Sutter Buttes Brewing in Yuba City.

Members’ Letter to FDA

April 11, 2014

The Honorable Margaret Hamburg, M.D.
Commissioner
U.S. Food and Drug Administration
10903 New Hampshire Avenue
Silver Spring, MD 20993

Dear Commissioner Hamburg,

It has been brought to our attention that the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) proposed rules under the Food Safety Modernization Act will have significant negative impacts on small breweries, which are experiencing rapid growth and creating thousands of jobs across the nation. While we appreciate that the FDA is working towards improved food safety, the unintended consequences of these regulations will increase costs, decrease efficiency and hamper the growth of breweries, particularly those which include restaurants. As you work toward a final rule, we urge you to take into account these unintended consequences and include revisions which would exempt such breweries from the new requirements. 

For example, a well-known and leading Northern California brewery not only grows much of the grain used in its brewing operations, but also uses the spent grain as feed for cattle raised to supply beef to the brewery’s restaurant. This brewery re-uses over 99% of its spent grain, yet the proposed rule would cause such significant hurdles and costs that it would be unable to do so. We believe that such efficiency is a laudable goal that the FDA should encourage, but the proposed rule would hinder or even eliminate such efforts by forcing these facilities to dry, package and inspect all food, including the spent grain used for cattle feed. 

Breweries that incorporate restaurants into their facilities are already required to register with the FDA and maintain complete food safety records. Additionally, any facility that manufactures, processes, packs, or holds food that is intended for human or animal consumption must register with the FDA. Food manufacturers, processors, packers, and distributors, are already required to maintain records to allow FDA to better identify issues that may arise from these facilities. The registration requirement applies to any facility that conducts these activities, unless a facility is specifically exempted.  Breweries already meet the record-keeping and safety standards which the proposed rule hopes to achieve.

We are pleased to see that the comment period of the proposed rule has been extended. As you consider revisions to the proposed rule, we urge that you ensure that small breweries be exempted from these counterproductive and onerous requirements. Protecting growing sectors of our economy and encouraging efficiency should be a goal of every federal entity, and we hope that you will agree.

Thank you for your consideration of this important request.

Sincerely,

Rep. Doug LaMalfa (R-CA-1)
Rep. John Garamendi (D-CA-3)
Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA-22)
Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA-14)
Rep. David Valadao (R-CA-21)
Rep. Ami Bera (D-CA-7)
Rep. Juan Vargas (D-CA-51)
Rep. Tom McClintock (R-CA-4)
Rep. Sam Farr (D-CA-20)
Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-CA-47)
Rep. Mark Takano (D-CA-41)
Rep. Ken Calvert (R-CA-42)
Rep. Jeff Denham (R-CA-10)