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The HEALTHGRAIN definition of 'whole grain'

Lookup NU author(s): Emeritus Professor Chris SealORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC 4.0).


Most cereal products, like white bread, pasta, and biscuits, are based on flour after removal of bran and germ, the two parts of grain kernels containing most of the dietary fibre and other bioactive components. In the past decade, consumers have been rediscovering whole grain-based products and the number of wholegrain products has increased rapidly. In most countries in Europe and worldwide, however, no legally endorsed definition of wholegrain flour and products exists. Current definitions are often incomplete, lacking descriptions of the included grains and the permitted flour manufacturing processes. The consortium of the HEALTHGRAIN EU project (FP6-514008, 2005-2010) identified the need for developing a definition of whole grain with the following scope: 1) more comprehensive than current definitions in most EU countries; 2) one definition for Europe - when possible equal to definitions outside Europe; 3) reflecting current industrial practices for production of flours and consumer products; 4) useful in the context of nutritional guidelines and for labelling purposes. The definition was developed in a range of discussion meetings and consultations and was launched in 2010 at the end of the HEALTHGRAIN project. The grains included are specified: a wide range of cereal grains from the Poaceae family, and the pseudo-cereals amaranth, buckwheat, quinoa, and wild rice. The definition also describes manufacturing processes allowed for producing wholegrain flours. This paper compares the HEALTHGRAIN definition with previous definitions, provides more comprehensive explanations than in the definition itself regarding the inclusion of specific grains, and sets out the permitted flour manufacturing processes.

Publication metadata

Author(s): van der Kamp JW, Poutanen K, Seal CJ, Richardson DP

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Food & Nutrition Research

Year: 2014

Volume: 58

Pages: 1-8

Print publication date: 04/02/2014

Acceptance date: 12/12/2013

Date deposited: 30/07/2014

ISSN (print): 1654-6628

ISSN (electronic): 1654-661X

Publisher: Co-Action Publishing


DOI: 10.3402/fnr.v58.22100


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Funder referenceFunder name
FP6-514008European Commission in the Communities 6th Framework Programme, Project HEALTHGRAIN