New code for wholegrain foods

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A new industry code has provided a content standard for foods classified as ‘wholegrain’.

Do you know how much whole grain needs to be in your breakfast cereal or bread for it to be considered ‘high in whole grain’ or ‘very high in whole grain’? Like most Australians, you can be forgiven for not knowing this, as there has previously been no standard to regulate the content of foods that claim to be wholegrain. However, the new Code of Practice for Whole Grain Ingredient Content Claims aims to clarify the advertising and labelling of wholegrain foods.

Developed by the Grains and Legumes Nutrition Council (GLNC), the voluntary code is designed to guide the labelling of foods, which vary widely in their wholegrain content.

From 2014, consumers are expected to start seeing consistent messages relating to the wholegrain ingredients of foods on packaging and advertising under the new code, says GLNC managing director Georgie Aley. “The new standard is set to help consumers identify wholegrain foods, which can help them meet the recommended target for wholegrain consumption each day,” Ms Aley says.

“The code also provides a framework for GLNC to more widely communicate the nutritional benefits of whole grains and drive domestic market demand,” she says.

Despite the increased emphasis on whole grains in the revised Australian Dietary Guidelines, a study commissioned by GLNC in 2009 and 2011 has shown that most Australians are not eating enough wholegrain foods. This research indicated that the dietary intake of wholegrain foods decreased by about 20 per cent in the years the study was conducted, which may have resulted in part from the mixed messages surrounding wholegrain foods, Ms Aley says.

The wholegrain levels outlined in the code are based on the Australian Dietary Guidelines and the 2006 recommendation for consuming 48 grams of whole grains per day.

Guidelines for wholegrain classification in the code are outlined in Table 1.

The code was developed in consultation with the public health and nutrition research community and the food industry, based on research findings. The code is also aligned with international standards for labelling and characterisation of wholegrain foods. This includes the American Association of Cereal Chemists (AACC) International Standard that requires foods carrying the classification to contain eight grams of whole grain per 30 grams of product.

Another advantage of the new code is that it enables the GLNC to certify foods that contain high or very high levels of whole grains as healthier. This certification also applies to high-fibre or legume foods, allowing manufacturers to use GLNC’s statement and logo on their packaging.

“This additional certification highlights healthier product choices for consumers in the grains and legumes category,” Ms Aley says. “It also improves understanding about the health benefits of consuming grain foods three to four times a day, and legumes at least two to three times a week.”

TABLE 1 Code of practice for wholegrain ingredient content claims
Wholegrain content per manufacturer serve Permitted wholegrain claim
Less than 8g of whole grain No wholegrain claim permitted
Greater than 8g of whole grain Contains wholegrain
Greater than 16g of whole grain High in wholegrain
Greater than 24g of whole grain Very high in wholegrain

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