Despite the importance of whole grain consumption being reiterated in the new US Dietary Guidelines for Americans, the UK currently has no plans to introduce specific recommendations on the issue.

Although the call to "make at least half your grains whole" remains the same as it was in the 2005 US guidelines, the new dietary advice, published on 31 January, is more specific about how consumers can achieve these targets for example by replacing refined grains with whole grains, said Cynthia Harriman, director of the Whole Grains Council (WGC) in America.

She added the WGC also welcomed the validation of the 8g per serving level, "since this is the standard the WGC established through its Whole Grain Stamp program".

While it is recommended that Americans eat at least three portions (around 85g) of whole grains per day, the UK does not have any specific recommendations at the moment, said Bridget Benelam, senior nutrition scientist, British Nutrition Foundation, adding she was not aware of any such plans in the pipeline. "When it comes to starchy carbohydrate food groups, the advice is to choose whole-grain varieties where possible, so it is encouraged," she said.

According to the European Food Information Council, specific barriers to whole grain consumption include a lack of knowledge as to what a whole grain is, a lack of awareness of its health benefits and consumer difficulties in identifying whole-grain foods.

Harriman added: "Much of Europe seems to be a bit reticent about promoting whole grains, since the status of any potential European Food Safety Authority health claims is unclear. However, I would urge the UK to step up to the plate and make specific dietary recommendations on whole grains."

At the WGC’s conference, Whole grains: The new norm, in Portland, Oregon last week, Yu Xiaodong, general director of China’s Public Nutrition and Development Center told delegates of the country’s decision last year to make a big push for whole grains. It is now partnering with the WGC to find the best ways to increase consumption of whole grain, said Harriman.

>>New US guidelines push higher whole grain consumption