Perspective: A Definition for Whole-Grain Food Products-Recommendations from the Healthgrain Forum

Alastair B. Ross, Jan-Willem van der Kamp, Roberto King, Kim-Anne Lê, Heddie Mejborn, Chris J. Seal, Frank Thielecke

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Whole grains are a key component of a healthy diet, and enabling consumers to easily choose foods with a high whole-grain content is an important step for better prevention of chronic disease. Several definitions exist for whole-grain foods, yet these do not account for the diversity of food products that contain cereals. With the goal of creating a relatively simple whole-grain food definition that aligns with whole-grain intake recommendations and can be applied across all product categories, the Healthgrain Forum, a not-for-profit consortium of academics and industry working with cereal foods, established a working group to gather input from academics and industry to develop guidance on labeling the whole-grain content of foods. The Healthgrain Forum recommends that a food may be labeled as "whole grain" if it contains ≥30% whole-grain ingredients in the overall product and contains more whole grain than refined grain ingredients, both on a dry-weight basis. For the purposes of calculation, added bran and germ are not considered refined-grain ingredients. Additional recommendations are also made on labeling whole-grain content in mixed-cereal foods, such as pizza and ready meals, and a need to meet healthy nutrition criteria. This definition allows easy comparison across product categories because it is based on dry weight and strongly encourages a move from generic whole-grain labels to reporting the actual percentage of whole grain in a product. Although this definition is for guidance only, we hope that it will encourage more countries to adopt regulation around the labeling of whole grains and stimulate greater awareness and consumption of whole grains in the general population.
Original languageEnglish
JournalAdvances in Nutrition
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)525-531
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • cereal
  • dietary guidelines
  • dietary intake
  • food guidelines
  • food labelling
  • food regulation
  • public policy
  • whole grains


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