What Do New FDA Requirements Mean For Smaller Breweries?

Compliance for breweries with new federal regulations regarding such things as calories and carbohydrates through the Food Safety Modernization Act goes into effect next Friday, May 5.

Lots of questions have arose from the announcement, and although it only is a new standard for  breweries that have beer outside of its own taprooms and in larger establishment, such as chain restaurants and similar retail outlets, there is a lot of wiggle room said a Brewers Association official.

The FDA will require restaurants with 20 or more locations to include nutritional information for regular menu items, including beer.

For many smaller breweries that don’t have beer in those types of locations, it was a relief that extensive testing for calories and lesser nutrients were not going to be needed immediately. But even if those smaller facilities would have had to go through this process, the BA has created a tool to give a reasonable menu label for 41 styles on its website.

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“In this process we have learned the FDA is not super concerned how precise this info is, as long as you have used a reasonable base for the number,” said Damon Scott, the Technical Brewing Projects Coordinator, at the Indiana Craft Brewers Conference. “Then you are covered. If calories are off by 10, realistically that isn’t worth getting a penalty. I would emphasis that [brewers] have accurate gravity readings for calorie and carbohydrate information. And pick the right style information that is appropriate.”

It’s pointed out that beers that have post-fermentation additions other than hops, the database is not a reasonable basis, and these beers should be lab tested if a brewer wants them available in chain restaurants.

An alternate source for getting the information is to also contact a local lab that has the proper equipment. Many universities that have a higher education science degrees would be an appropriate, and cost-effective way to measure all the needed requirements that the FDA has laid out.

Although the onus is on the major retailers, smaller retails can add these requirements as well and breweries are urged to check during the process of contracting should it look to work with an establishment.

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