Cereal Scientists Set “Whole Grain” Standard
How much of a food product has to be whole grains to qualify to use the term “whole grain”? The US has a mixed bag of regulations on whole-grain labeling, which led the Whole Grains Council to initiate the voluntary Whole Grain Stamp program in 2005. To qualify for a “Basic” stamp in that program (pictured), a product must contain at least 8 grams of whole grains per serving. But different serving sizes leave what some view as a loophole in that definition, so now AACC International (formerly the American Association of Cereal Chemists) has put forth a more specific criterion. After a year of study, AACCI experts recommended that a “whole-grain” product should contain 8 grams of whole grains per 30 grams (a little over an ounce). AACCI came up with the original definition of whole grains in 1999, when whole grains were just being recognized for their nutritional advantages. The new “characterization” (which the group prefers to “definition”) is similar to one used in the federal Dietary Guidelines, which calls for 8 grams per ounce equivalent. It also avoids the term “serving,” which can vary widely by product and internationally. The Whole Grains Council, however, expressed concern that “many good whole-grain foods won’t qualify for this standard.” For example, while dry oatmeal qualifies, the water weight of oatmeal sold cooked would disqualify it. Many mixed dishes such as vegetable pies or pizzas with a whole-grain crust would also fall short.