Statement from Oldways and the Whole Grains Council
on FDA Whole Grains Review

BOSTON, February 15, 2006 – The Whole Grains Council (WGC) and Oldways are pleased that the FDA clarified its position on whole grains today, and in doing so, supported public education campaigns that help consumers increase their whole grain consumption.

First, the FDA announced its support for the grains recommendations of the 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. These guidelines urge most Americans to eat six servings of grains each day, of which 3 servings should be whole grains. Americans currently eat one serving of whole grains each day, so whole grain consumption should be tripled.

Second, the FDA endorsed the industry-standard definition of whole grain developed by the American Association of Cereal Chemists and by the Whole Grains Council and Oldways, clearly delineating the specific grains that can be considered whole grains. It also delineated some other foods — like soybeans and seeds — that are not whole grains.

Third, and just as important, the FDA opened a 60-day comment period for further review of consumer education programs which seek to help consumers readily identify legitimate whole grain products. The Whole Grain Stamp program of the Whole Grains Council and Oldways is the most visible and specific of these programs to help consumers make wise choices.

The bright-golden Whole Grain Stamps appear on packages containing legitimate whole grain products, consistently identifying three levels of whole grains in a serving: a “Good Source” has 8 grams (half a Dietary Guidelines serving), an “Excellent Source” has 16 grams (a full Dietary Guidelines serving), and a “100% Excellent Source” (also a full whole grain serving) has all its grain content as whole grains.

On December 28, 2005 the Whole Grains Council and Oldways sent the FDA a letter which, said Whole Grains Council chairman Jeff Dahlberg, “urged the FDA to clarify its position on whole grain labeling, and offered constructive comments on the many issues involved.”

The FDA’s response to the Whole Grains Council and Oldways, received February 14, 2006, says that the agency is working with USDA to ensure consistency on whole grain policies, but that final guidance “may not be complete before the end of the fiscal year.” The FDA letter also commented on the Whole Grain Stamps, advising that “food labels bearing these stamps could be misbranded” under various FDA regulations. Clarifying its position in response to questions at today’s press conference, the FDA stated that any determination about the stamps will be made on a case-by-case basis, and on the merits of whether the “Good Source” and “Excellent Source” descriptors are “truthful and not misleading.” The FDA’s nonbinding recommendations, released today, are a guidance document, which does “not establish legally enforceable responsibilities.”

“The Whole Grains Council and Oldways welcome this review,” said K. Dun Gifford, President of Oldways and a lead founder of the Whole Grains Council. “Consumer surveys are clear that consumers want to eat more whole grains, but are bewildered by the clutter of whole grains claims in advertisements and on packaging,” he added. The “Good Source” and “Excellent Source” Whole Grain stamps are simple descriptors of the contents of the packaging, and do not provide or offer a health claim. Whole Grain stamps now appear on more than 600 healthy whole grain products.

The Whole Grains Council stamps are accurate and truthful, and their simplicity helps harried shoppers make sound choices in their grocery aisles. The FDA today encouraged manufacturers to “use whole grain terminology in a uniform and consistent manner” and to “help consumers choose products consistent with the Dietary Guidelines.” Cynthia Harriman, Director of Food & Nutrition Strategies for Oldways and the Whole Grains Council, said that “the Whole Grains Council and Oldways have followed these exact goals in developing and promoting the Whole Grain Stamp program, so we hope that any FDA reviews and final guidance will be carried out swiftly.”

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Courtney Davis
Media Relations Manager
Oldways- The Food Issues Think Tank
266 Beacon Street, Boston, MA 02116 USa

About Oldways
Oldways develops and carries out education programs and events to help consumers make wise choices about eating, drinking, lifestyle and the traditional pleasures of the table. These programs embrace sound principles of nutrition, sustainable farming, balance, and managing choices.