ST. PAUL — A whole grain food must contain 8 g or more of whole grain per 30 g of product, according to the AACC International (AACCI)’s Whole Grains Working Group in a characterization recently approved by the association’s board of directors.

The new description will help consumers choose foods that best meet the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

Julie Miller Jones, PhD, chair of the Whole Grains Working Group, led the association’s efforts on whole grains product characterization and said, “Currently, consumers are confused about what constitutes a whole grain food, and this characterization provides clear guidance to those who seek to consume the recommended levels of whole grain.”

Federal dietary guidelines recommend Americans should make half their grains whole, which means that each day they should eat at least 3 servings of whole grains with 16 g whole grain or 6 servings of foods that have at least 8 g whole grain. The Whole Grains Working Group made the distinction of 8 g whole grains per 30 g product to take into account food products that include refined grains, which currently enjoy higher levels of consumer acceptance.

A standard characterization of a whole grain food also levels the playing field for everyone in the cereal grain industry and enables uniform messaging about whole grain food products. The language does not impact statements about products that are allowed by the law, other ingredients that might be in a food product, or the naming of food products.

AACCI said, in its May 21 statement about the new definition, that the recommendation had been highly anticipated by the cereal grain industry. The working group was formed to address science-based issues related to whole grains and whole grain products. This year, the group has focused its efforts on characterizing whole grain foods so consumers are more easily able to recognize and select whole grain foods.