Brown rice, a healthy 100% whole grain food, gained its rightful place in the whole grains universe on May 6, 2008, when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) agreed to allow brown rice to bear the Whole Grain Health Claim.

When the Whole Grain Health Claim was originally approved in 1999, it allowed foods containing at least 51% whole grains (and meeting a few other nutrient requirements) to carry the statement that “Diets rich in whole grain foods and other plant foods and low in total fat, saturated fat and cholesterol may reduce the risk of heart disease and some cancers.”

Since no lab test for “whole grain content” exists, however, FDA stipulated that products using the claim must prove compliance by equalling or exceeding the fiber level of wheat, the grain most common in the American diet. Through the law of unintended consequences, brown rice, whose fiber does not match that of wheat, was left out in the cold, and did not qualify to use the Whole Grain Health Claim.

Now, however, FDA has clarified, sensibly, that a compliance test is not necessary for brown rice or other single-ingredient whole grain foods. If the ingredients list shows that a product contains whole grain and nothing but whole grain, it’s clear that the package contains 100% whole grain – well in excess of the 51% requirement.

Consumers touring their supermarket aisles will find a surprising array of brown rice products that now qualify for the Whole Grain Health Claim. There’s ninety-second brown rice, brown basmati rice, and flavored brown rice medleys consumers can simply zap in a microwavable pouch. People who haven’t tried today’s brown rice are in for a treat.

FDA’s action came in response to a petition filed by the USA Rice Federation, with assistance from the Whole Grains Council. Click on the following link to read USA Rice’s full press release on FDA’s decision.
FDA Approves Health Claim for Brown Rice, Confirms popular whole grain may provide protection against heart disease and …