Some FDA changes regarding menu labeling took effect May 7th. One of those changes requires chain restaurants, grocery outlets and convenience stores with more than 20 locations to post calories for beer and other drinks sold on-premise that are considered standard menu items. So your favorite chain restaurant that carries Irish Death year-round should be posting calories and nutritional information if it’s listed on a menu or menu board.
Other changes related to the Food Safety Modernization Act will affect breweries so we asked Greg and Rikki what changes we’ll see at Iron Horse Brewery.
Do you think posting caloric and nutritional information at restaurants will make people want to drink less beer?
“Some people. I already have a good knowledge of it because it matters to me and I’m trying to remain healthy. I do think a greater context needs to be added, but that is not really the purview of a restaurant menu. Ultimately, I can accept that this is good for consumers even if it is a minor setback for our business and I therefore support it.” — Greg
Do you think people will gravitate more toward “light” beers as a result of this?
“Only the people that are already super aware of calories and trying to avoid them. If someone is drinking a light beer now and they see how many calories they can save by going to one of the super low-cal beers they will but I think most craft consumers are fairly aware of the general caloric cost of a craft beer and has built that into their plan. Or they’ve already said ‘fuck it, this is the price of living the good life’ and have thrown caution to the wind.” — Greg
“That is a great question. I think it will provide a better resource for people who are starting to notice they are following the national trend a bit too closely (myself included). I have changed my at home beer from cans of Hand Cannon (204 calories) to cans of Send It (158 calories), because my BMI is 27.5 according to Google. Granted, I could just cut out beer, but that is a very silly idea. I think those who are looking for a “best of both worlds” will begin that gravitating process, but I don’t think this will change drinking habits that much, but instead grow an underrepresented market. See gluten free craze, and how much those with Celiac’s have benefited, and the keto craze, and those with diabetes have benefited.” — Rikki
What are some of the other changes being implemented at IHB as a result of the Food Safety Modernization Act?
“Visitor logs, removing shrubbery from around the brewery, handwashing signs. That’s all I know about but I know there is quite a bit more.” — Greg
“In all honesty, we actually have not much to change when it comes to the FSMA regulations, because Tyson already has us trained to think of beer as a food product. Would you want your ice cream handled by someone with an open wound? no? Then why would you want your beer which is also going into your mouth exposed to such things? Brewers already call themselves glorified janitors, because cleanliness is key in the quality beer world.” — Rikki
How has Iron Horse Brewery been preparing for FDA changes?
“I don’t really know. Rikki and Tyson have been leading the charge on that one as far as I’m aware.” — Greg
“We have a designated GMP captain now, who has taken on the role of evaluating the requirements of the FSMA act (specifically sections A,B,D, and F which apply to our production/usage) and ensuring we have all relevant standard works, we maintain checklists, and posting obvious rules (like washing your hands after you poo). We take our quality seriously, now we also post signs in our building proving it more. Though, there are some things that we have changed that we haven’t addressed before, like taking out our front mini garden bed (goodbye, hollyhocks!), made it an actual rule our production team has their hair tied back/in hats/restrained during key points in the process, and banned food from the production floor (so no more lunches while staring at the brewhouse screen). For those taking tours at the production facility, the consumers will now have to sign in for tours, and agree to not fuck our shit up (I literally put that in the rules). ” — Rikki
What is noticeable to the consumer?
“Little to nothing.” — Greg
How do these changes affect the pub if at all?
“We may have to source our yeast for the pretzels differently. For some reason if we use our yeast directly in a ready to eat item it has to come from a certified facility with a full HACCP plan or some other shit like that. Tyson told me the details but I blocked them out because I don’t like them. tl:dr in essence. It’s sort of lame but it’s easier to just order small batches of our yeast from the source than to take our entire facility to the next level of certification just so we can say our pretzels have yeast that actually fermented our beer before.” — Greg
“From what I understand of the FSMA regulations, this does not affect/apply to the pub. They are a single location, and they do not have brewing on site. If Brooke wants, we can get her calorie counts for the menus, but that’s about it I think, but as the rules start being enforced/expanded upon for breweries, we will see! But really, for pub specifically, they already have their own rules to follow mandated by local and state health codes.” — Rikki
What’s your take? Will seeing calorie counts change your beer drinking habits?