Distiller: FDA fine for making sanitizer felt like getting ‘slapped’ for doing right thing
Aaron Bergh, Calwise Spirits president, tells ‘America’s Newsroom’ it’s been cool to see the public come out in support of distilleries.
A California distiller told Fox News the Food and Drug Administration's surprise $14,000 fine on craft distillers who switched to produce hand sanitizer amid the coronavirus pandemic felt like getting "slapped" for doing the right thing.
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) just two days after the FDA's announcement said it is going to make sure it doesn't happen, which Aaron Bergh, the president of Calwise Spirits in Paso Robles, told "America's Newsroom" he didn't expect.
"I got into this trying to do the right thing, trying to help during the pandemic. I registered, did everything the FDA required of us and I feel like I got slapped for it," Bergh said.
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He noted that a lot of distilleries were giving the sanitizer away for free or selling it at a low margin to help out.
"I feel like we have got the credit we deserve and just the outpouring of support," Bergh said. "I mean, this really has only been 24 hours since we broke this story and created this public outcry, 'Hey, why is this fair to be charging distilleries $14,000 when they helped?'
"I think it's been so cool to see how the public have come out in our defense over this," Bergh said.
Rep. Denver Riggleman, R-Va., a distiller himself, put out a statement, saying, "I'm happy to see a 'Whiskey Rebellion' against bureaucratic nonsense exhibited by the FDA. HHS responded professionally and appropriately in rescinding the ridiculous producer fee for distilleries that sacrificed their own treasure to produce hand sanitizer for COVID PPE efforts."
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Riggleman added, "God bless the distillers and all businesses who stepped up in time of need. Whiskey is freedom."
Bergh said it's been a "rollercoaster of a year" with the pandemic but he is grateful to the community for supporting his business.
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