Proposed Canadian regulations focus on distillers grains

By Ron Kotrba | June 02, 2008
In April, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency issued a draft regulatory proposal pertaining to distillers grains. In response, the U.S.-based National Grain and Feed Association asked the regulatory agency to reconsider its proposals—mostly for fear of disrupting cross-border trade between the United States and Canada.

The NGFA is asking for the CFIA's reconsideration of four broad aspects of its proposal, which if accepted as drafted could adversely affect U.S. distillers grains from entering into Canada and vice versa. One of the NGFA's concerns is the agency's approval of four antimicrobial agents (penicillin, streptomycin, ampicillin and virginiamycin). "Part of the CFIA's proposal is related to the use or approval of those four different antimicrobials, and in the United States, only one product received no objection to its use during fermentation—virginiamycin," said Dave Fairfield, NGFA director of feed services.

While the United States produces far more distillers grains than Canada, the weak U.S. dollar has led to an increase in U.S. distillers grains exports in the past several months, which might increase importation of Canadian distillers grains into the United States. Until production in Canada increases, however, most of the NGFA's worries over the agency's proposals concern their potential to dramatically restrict U.S. distillers grains exportation northward. Fairfield said 317,000 tons of distillers grains were exported from the United States into Canada in 2007.

Another major aspect of the CFIA draft rule changes that concerns the NGFA is the proposed requirement that distillers grains be labeled with guarantees for maximum moisture, sulfur sodium and phosphorus. The NGFA asserts that other feeds aren't subject to similar maximum-concentration limits. Instead, most U.S. feed products are required to meet minimum crude protein and fat, and maximum crude fiber.

CFIA spokesman Alain Charette told EPM the agency is still discussing its proposed regulations on distillers grains and is taking the opportunity to hear from everyone wishing to
voice opinions.

"Something to remember is that there have not been any safety concerns with distillers grains products in Canada—at least that I'm aware of," Fairfield said. "It's the CFIA's job to regulate the safety of feed ingredients. We just want them to be science-based and to be harmonized as much as possible with U.S. regulations to minimize any trade disruptions. We simply feel there is no real justification to propose these regulatory policies that could inhibit trade. We think the system is working well now and don't want to disrupt that."

At press time in mid-May, the CFIA was expected to release a revised draft proposal before its May 30 stakeholder meeting in Ottawa. In 2007, the CFIA announced its intention to draft regulatory policy with respect to distillers grains from ethanol production because some additives, enzymes and processing aids used in making fuel alcohol were never approved for use in food or beverage-alcohol production. "That was the reason the CFIA started down that path," Fairfield said.