Evidence Considered Related to the Definition for Whole Grain-Rich Foods
Whole grains are grains that consist of the entire grain seed, which is made up of three components: the germ, the bran, and the endosperm. Grains are often cracked, crushed, ground, flaked, or processed in some other manner to prepare them for use in food products. A grain remains a whole grain so long as all three components (germ, bran, and endosperm) are retained in approximately the same proportion as the unprocessed grain.
Whole Grains in Foods
Grain products may contain a combination of whole and refined grains, and food manufacturers are not required to disclose the amount of each grain ingredient. Thus, it can be difficult to determine the whole grain content of a food. Below are brief descriptions related to the whole grain content of foods as established by various organizations in recent years.
2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans
According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (HHS/USDA, 2005, p. 25), label reading should be used to identify whole grains. (“Whole grains cannot be identified by color of the food; label-reading skills are needed.” “The whole grain should be the first ingredient listed.”)
U.S. Department of Agriculture
In creating the MyPyramid Equivalents database to analyze food intake data, the USDA Food Survey Research Group set 16 g of grain as an amount to apply loosely in determining 1 ounce-equivalent serving sizes for various types of breads and grains (USDA, 2008), whether whole grain or refined. One-ounce equivalents include ½ cup of cooked rice or pasta and one slice of bread (USDA/ARS, 2006). Notably, 16 g is approximately the weight of flour in 1 ounce of bread, but it is considerably less than the weight of dry rice (about 28 g) in ½ cup of cooked rice.
Food and Drug Administration
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires foods that bear the whole grain health claim to contain 51 percent or more whole grain ingredients by weight per reference amount (FDA, 1999). In addition, food products must meet criteria for fat and cholesterol to bear this health claim. The FDA allows manufacturers to make factual statements about whole grains on food packaging such as listing the grams of whole grains per serving.
Whole Grains Council
The Whole Grains Council has established two whole grain stamps for foods that contain specified amounts of whole grains. Products eligible for their “100% Whole Grain” stamp must contain ≥ 16 g of whole grains per serving. To be eligible for their “Whole Grain” stamp a product must contain ≥ 8 g of whole grains per serving. The Whole Grains Council’s stamp program is a voluntary labeling initiative. To take part in the initiative, manufacturers must join and pay annual dues to the Whole Grains Council (Whole Grains Council, 2007).
USDA HealthierUS School Challenge
The USDA HealthierUS School Challenge (USDA/FNS, 2009b) includes the following criteria for determining whether a food item qualifies as a whole grain:
The food must be at least the portion size of one grains/breads serving as defined in the USDA Food Buying Guide for Child Nutrition Programs (USDA/FNS, 2009c); and
The food must fit into one of the following two groups:
Whole grain(s) must be the primary ingredient by weight; or
Whole grain(s) must be the primary grain ingredient by weight.
To be eligible for a Gold or Bronze/Silver Award, a minimum number of whole grain foods must be served each week with a minimum specified number fitting into Group A.