The Brewers Association received word that the FDA will be releasing the revised proposed rules on September 19, 2014 or soon after. FDA had indicated that the revised rules would come out in summer, so it looks like this agency will just slide in under the wire. The revised rules will trigger a new comment period. Brewers Association staff and counsel will review the revised rules and provide information to members on what the new proposal would mean to small brewer businesses and provide some ideas for appropriate comments.
FDA has given no indication that the agency will acknowledge the exemption given to small alcohol beverage producers in the Food Safety Modernization Act. FDA did indicate that the burdens on small brewers would be minor. There are many members of Congress who are also watching what FDA releases, and will be ready to consider supporting the position of small brewers in their districts and states. FDA has shown that they have a strong PR operation, which succeeded at ignoring small brewer claims that the Act provides exemption, and focused their reply in the spring with messages of “we’re listening, and we’ll clarify the rules, and there will be very minimal burden on small brewers.” One thing we will be watching is what level of documentation FDA will require–something minimal as they stated or a full-blown Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point plan or something in between.
As the Brewers Association and members of Congress have stated before, the FDA is seeking a solution for a problem that doesn’t exist for a practice that has existed for thousands of years without a problem. Stay tuned.