Definitions of whole grain

The HEALTHGRAIN Forum has published two definitions related to whole grains:

1) The HEALTHGRAIN definition of whole grain

This definition for defining whole grain as a raw material and food ingredient, developed by the HEALTHGRAIN Consortium, was first presented in the Final HEALTHGRAIN Conference in 2010 and was published in Food & Nutrition Research in 2014 (attached). The definition is similar to the definition of AACC International (1999) but is more closely following current industrial production practices regarding:

  • The ways in which endosperm, bran and germ - after separation in the milling process - can be recombined
  • Inclusion of the option of removal, for quality and safety purposes, of max. 2% of the grain / 10% of the bran

2) The HEALTHGRAIN Forum definition of a whole-grain food

This definition, published in the July 2017 issue of Advances in Nutrition, will pave the way towards clearer labelling on food packaging. The definition recommends that a food may be labelled as ‘whole grain’ if it contains at least 30 % whole-grain ingredients in the overall product and more whole grain than refined grain, both on a dry weight basis.

The HEALTHGRAIN definition of whole grain has got wide recognition in the past years. The Healthgrain Forum is aiming at getting wide approval at the EU level and world-wide of both definitions, as such or after some modifications or additions. Both definitions and the way forward to obtain further approval will be discussed in the 6th International Whole Grain Summit.

Your support in getting the definition approved in and beyond your country and your suggestions for adaptation will be highly appreciated. You may contact jan-willem.vanderkamp [at] - HEALTHGRAIN Forum’s Communication Officer.

For more information please

1) see the below HEALTHGRAIN Forum documents

  • Food & Nutrition Research Feb. 2014: The HEALTHGRAIN definition of ‘whole grain’ - Read more
  • Whole grain definition by the HEALTHGRAIN consortium, edited December 2013 - Read more
  • Statement of the Healthgrain Forum Board, January 2017 - Read more


2) and other documents as

  • AACCI definition of a wholegrain food (Released 21 May 2013) (link is external)

  • Developing a Standard Definition of Whole-Grain Foods for Dietary Recommendations: Read more

Summary Report of a Multidisciplinary Expert Roundtable Discussion
Mario G. Ferruzzi,3,4 Satya S. Jonnalagadda,5* Simin Liu,6,7 Len Marquart,8 Nicola McKeown,9 Marla Reicks,10
Gabriele Riccardi,11 Chris Seal,12 Joanne Slavin,10 Frank Thielecke,13 Jan-Willem van der Kamp,14 and Densie Webb15
This paper concludes that the AACCI definition is appropriate but acknowledges also the importance of food with less than 8g wholegrain / 30g for contributing to total wholegrain intake

  • 3 Whole grain food definitions: AACCI, HGForum, WG Council 

Presented by Cynthia Harriman, Whole Grains Council, April 2017, Brazil - Read more

  • "Nutritional Impacts of Different Whole Grain Milling Techniques" Publication (2015) - Read more