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Proposed Definition of Whole Grain as Food Ingredient

Building a Consensus for a Global Whole Grain Ingredient Definition

During the 6th International Whole Grain Summit (Vienna, 13-15 November 2017) it was concluded that harmonized global definitions of a whole grain ingredient and a whole grain food are needed to provide clarity to consumers, to provide a uniform basis for dietary recommendations and for nutrition and health research, and to serve as a level platform for industry. The overall goal is to increase worldwide consumption of whole grains. The International Working Group (comprised of world-wide members from academia, government agencies, non-government organizations (AACCI Whole Grain Taskforce), and the private-sector evaluated existing definitions including AACCI - Cereals & Grains Association and Healthgrain definitions and considered a wide range of member input from Working Group discussions.

Below is the definition and a link to an appendix to provide further background information and clarifications. The definition is in its final stages of evaluation, member feedback is now being reviewed and the AACCI - Cereals & Grains Association Board will be reviewing for final determination. Thank you to everyone who provided feedback!   

Global Whole Grain Ingredient Definition

Whole grains shall consist of the intact, ground, cracked, flaked or otherwise processed kernel after the removal of inedible parts such as the hull and husk. All anatomical components, including the endosperm, germ, and bran must be present in the same relative proportions as in the intact kernel.¹


1.     This definition applies to cereal grains in the Poaceae family, and pseudo-cereals listed in Annex 1, that are used for human consumption.

2.     Processing of cereals and their fractions includes dry and wet methods which should be executed according to good manufacturing principles and considers the following points:

2a. A
batch of grain consisting of one or more varieties or classes of a single species may be temporarily separated into fractions and considered whole grain if the fractions are recombined in the original proportions.

2b.  Grain fractions from one or more varieties or classes of a single species that originated from different batches and combined to reflect the original proportions are considered whole grain.

2c.  Small, generally unavoidable losses of components, that occur through processing consistent with safety and quality standards are allowed.

2d.  Fermented, malted or sprouted grains containing all the original bran, germ and endosperm shall be considered whole grains as long as nutrient values have not diminished; for malted or sprouted grains the length of the sprout should not exceed kernel length. 

¹ The use of the term wholemeal may be legally protected in some jurisdictions and may be equivalent to whole grain. The use of this term should be checked within local contexts.