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​​​Whole Grains

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 (Cereals & Grains Association Whole Grain Taskforce), and the private-sector evaluated existing definitions including Cereals & Grains Association and Healthgrain definitions and considered a wide range of member input from Working Group discussions. The definition document includes the definition and 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 Cereals & Grains Association Board will be reviewing for final determination. Thank you to everyone who provided feedback!   

Cereals & Grains Association Definitions of Whole Grain/Sprouted Grain/Whole Grain Product

  • Whole Grain Definition
    A special ad hoc committee of experts from Cereals & Grains Association created an understandable definition of whole grain to benefit both processors and consumers. The following definition was approved and accepted by the Board of Directors in 1999:

"Whole grains shall consist of the intact, ground, cracked or flaked caryopsis, whose principal anatomical components—the starchy endosperm, germ, and bran—are present in the same relative proportions as they exist in the intact caryopsis.”

  • Sprouted Grain Definition
    In February 2008 the Cereals & Grains Association Board approved the following statement on sprouted grains:

“Malted or sprouted grains containing all of the original bran, germ, and endosperm shall be considered whole grains as long as sprout growth does not exceed kernel length and nutrient values have not diminished. These grains should be labeled as malted or sprouted whole grain.”

  • Whole Grain Product Definition
    In late April 2013 the Cereals & Grains Association Board of Directors approved the Whole Grain Working Group’s characterization of a whole grain product:

“A whole grain food must contain 8 grams or more of whole grain per 30 grams of product.”

    Cereals & Grains Association recommendation will aid consumers in choosing which food products to eat to meet the federal government’s dietary guidelines. Additionally, a standard characterization of a whole grain food also levels the playing field for everyone in the cereal grain industry and allows for uniform messaging about whole grain food products. The language does not impact statements about products that are allowed by the law, other ingredients that might be in a food product, or the naming of food products.

    Cereals & Grains Association responses to issues related to defining whole grains: 

    Cereals & Grains Association Whole Grain Working Group Unveils New Whole Grain Products
    May 2013 Press Release

    Cereals & Grains Association Submits Erratum to April 2006 Comments to FDA Regarding Whole Grains Label Statements: Availability
    June 2011 Letter

    Cereals & Grains Association Submits Comments to FDA on Food Labeling; Revision of Reference Values and Mandatory Nutrients
    April 2008 Letter

    Cereals & Grains Association Sends Recommendations to National School Lunch Program Regarding Whole and Enriched Grains,
    May 2007 Letter

    Cereals & Grains Association Submits Comments to Health Canada on Position Paper on Five US Health Claims Considered for Use in Canada
    February 2007 Letter

    Cereals & Grains Association Responds to USDA/FNS, Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) Food Package Rule
    October 2006 Letter

    Cereals & Grains Association Submits comments to FDA Regarding Whole Grains Label Statements: Availability
    April 2006 Letter

    Cereals & Grains Association Members Agree on Definition of Whole Grain
    June 2000 Flyer