The HEALTHGRAIN definition of ‘whole grain’

  • Jan Willem van der Kamp TNO Food and Nutrition
  • Kaisa Poutanen VTT. Department of Clinical Nutrition, University of Eastern Finland.
  • Chris J. Seal Human Nutrition Research Centre, School of Agriculture, Food & Rural Development University of Newcastle
  • David P. Richardson DPRNutrition Ltd.
Keywords: Food composition, Food processing, Health claims


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.

Keywords: cereal grains; wholegrain; definition; flour processing

(Published: 4 February 2014)

Citation: Food & Nutrition Research 2014, 58: 22100 -

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Author Biographies

Jan Willem van der Kamp, TNO Food and Nutrition

TNO Senior officer international projects

Additional positions include

Healthgrain Forum Board member

Chair of ICC Academy

Kaisa Poutanen, VTT. Department of Clinical Nutrition, University of Eastern Finland.
Academy professor
Chris J. Seal, Human Nutrition Research Centre, School of Agriculture, Food & Rural Development University of Newcastle

Professor of Food & Human Nutrition

University of newcastle


David P. Richardson, DPRNutrition Ltd.

Expert in EU / EFSA related Regulatory Affairs

Part-time Professor at University of Reading and University of  Newcastle

How to Cite
van der Kamp J. W., Poutanen K., Seal C. J., & Richardson D. P. (2014). The HEALTHGRAIN definition of ‘whole grain’. Food & Nutrition Research.
Original Articles