An agreed definition and recommended level of inclusion for whole grains in foods has been put forward by UK food and grocery industry body IGD.

IGD’s Working Group on Nutrition, which has been looking into the issue since 2006, has recommended that packaged goods claiming the presence of whole grain should contain at least 8g of whole grain per serving. At present, there are no recommended levels, but the Food Standards Agency is expected to put out two reports on whole grains in the next couple of months.

The IGD group, which includes representatives from the Flour Advisory Bureau, Cereal Partners and Premier Foods, has defined whole grains as having to include the entire germ, endosperm and bran. Temporary separation of these parts during processing is acceptable, provided the proportions are the same or virtually the same as the original grain.

Recombined bran, germ and endosperm from different cereals - for example wheat plus oats - do not qualify as whole grain, and making this claim is misleading, said the group. "People who consume diets rich in whole grains seem to have a lower incidence of many chronic diseases, including heart disease and diabetes. Despite these benefits, intakes in the UK remain low," said Dr Clare Leonard, chair of IGD’s Working Group on Nutrition. "It is crucial that consumers understand and trust claims about whole grains. For this reason, IGD has brought together key figures from within the industry to clarify the thinking around whole grains," she added.

In America, the Whole Grains Council, a body with more than 150 members, operates a Whole Grain Stamp. Products that contain at least 8g of whole grain ingredients - a half portion in the US - may be registered with the council to use the stamp. An alternative stamp, with "100%" across the middle, can be used on products containing at least 16g of whole grain, when all the grain is whole grain.