Australian agency sets new standard for whole grain ingredient content claims

by Eric Schroeder
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NORTH RYDE, NEW SOUTH WALES — The Grains & Legumes Nutrition Council, the independent authority for nutrition and health benefits of grains and legumes in Australia, has established a Code of Practice for Whole Grain Ingredient Content Claims. The new industry code will set for the first time a standard for labeling of whole grain foods in Australia.

Beginning in 2014, companies will be able to deliver consistent whole grain ingredient messaging on food packaging and advertising.

“G.L.N.C. consumption study data from 2009 and 2011 confirms that Australians aren’t eating enough whole grain foods,” said Georgie Aley, managing director for the G.L.N.C. “This may be attributed in part to mixed messages about whole grains, which can create confusion among consumers.

“There is currently no regulation for the use of whole grain ingredient content claims to describe the different amount of whole grain in different foods. This standard, which is being welcomed by industry, will help consumers to meet the recommended amount of whole grain for a day.”

The whole grain ingredient claim within the Code is based on the Australian Dietary Guidelines and the G.L.N.C.’s whole grain daily target intake of 48 grams per day. The 48-gram amount was established in 2006.

Under the new Code, products with less than 8 grams of whole grain per serving may not use a claim. Products with at least 8 grams or more may state “contains whole grains,” while those with at least 16 grams or more may state “high in whole grain,” and those with at least 24 grams or more can say “very high in whole grain.”

By comparison, the widely used Whole Grain Stamp issued by the Whole Grains Council requires products containing at least 8 grams of whole grain ingredients per labeled serving qualify to use the Whole Grain Stamp. Most products use the basic stamp, which is the W.G.C.’s standard stamp. The W.G.C. also offers a “100% Stamp,” which may be used if all the grains in the product are whole grains and the product contains at least 16 grams of whole grain ingredients per labeled serving. The Whole Grain Stamp debuted in Australia in the summer of 2011, and currently 18 products are approved to use the stamp in Australia.

Ms. Aley said the Australian content claim levels are in line with international labeling and the recently approved characterization of whole grain foods by the AACC International of 8 grams of whole grain per 30 grams of product.

In addition to being able to use the claims, the new Code enables manufacturers to be certified by the G.L.N.C. and permits on-pack use of the G.L.N.C.’s certification statement and logo by registered users.

“The additional certification will highlight healthier product choices for consumers within the grains and legumes category, and bring greater understanding about the value of enjoying grain foods three to four times a day, and legumes two to three times a week,” Ms. Aley said. “The key benefits for industry is in demonstrating to consumers that their whole grain product adheres to the G.L.N.C. Code of Practice, as well as leveraging the third-party certification of the G.L.N.C. — a health promotion charity.”

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