CPW calls on governments to set whole grain standard to eliminate consumer confusion

By Gill Hyslop

- Last updated on GMT

Cereal Partners Worldwide have found that people across the globe are confused about whole grains. Pic: ©GettyImages/robynmac
Cereal Partners Worldwide have found that people across the globe are confused about whole grains. Pic: ©GettyImages/robynmac

Related tags Grain Whole grain Us

Cereal Partners Worldwide (CPW) is calling on governments and industry worldwide to back a global commitment to help inform people about whole grain and its benefits.

The joint venture between General Mills and Nestlé recently released results of a survey it commissioned ahead of the 2017 International Whole Grain Summit (currently taking place in Vienna, Austria, November 13-15) that shows people across the globe are utterly confused about whole grain.

Censuswide – the research company that surveyed 16,173 adults in 11 countries, including the UK, the Baltics, the Middle East and Far East – reported that, while 82% of consumers know it is important to eat whole grain, 38% of them do not know where to find it.

Shocking results

One in 10 people say bananas contain whole grain, one in five believe it is found in white bread, 14% of respondents think it is in white rice; while 21% point to nuts and 28% to seeds.

“We know that whole grain is good for us and that it’s an important part of a balanced diet. However, our new research shows that people need help knowing how much whole grain to eat and importantly why getting more whole grain in our diets matters,”​ said David Homer, president and CEO of the Nestlé breakfast cereals maker, CPW.

Whole grains are commonly found in whole grain breakfast cereals, brown rice, whole grain pasta, wholemeal bread and porridge oats.

The fibrous husk is immensely important for human nutrition and health, and is highly recommended by the World Health Organization​(WHO). Numerous studies have found it to be beneficial for digestion, and goes a long way to reduce the risk of heart disease, Type 2 diabetes and weight gain​ and bowel cancer.

Despite its benefits, though, only three countries – the US, Netherlands and Denmark – have a quantitative recommendation for whole grain, which obviously is not enough.

  • The US recommends a minimum of three servings per day (equating to at least 48g).
  • Denmark recommends between 64g-75g per day, depending on gender.
  • The Netherlands recommends 90g of brown bread, wholemeal bread or other whole grain products daily.

“The first step on this journey is to agree to a set of global guidelines for recommended daily whole grain intake,” ​said Homer.

Prof Chris Seal of Food and Human Nutrition at Newcastle University is also calling for the UK government to introduce clear guidelines on the amount of whole grain we should be consuming.

“Clearly we are not eating enough whole grain globally and not enough is understood about the benefits of it – we need to do more to help people understand how to achieve a balanced diet,”​ he said.

Not enough being done

Further surprising results from the survey found that 83% of respondents do not know how much whole grain they should be eating every day, while 47% think they eat enough and 50% do not understand the benefits of doing so.

Research undertaken by Newcastle University as part of the National Diet and Nutrition Survey (NDNA) between 2008 and 2012, found that one in five Brits do not eat any whole grains at all.

Easy meal

The absurdity of the situation is just how easy it is for people to meet the minimum whole grain daily recommendation of 48g:

Simply eat a bowl of whole grain cereal for breakfast; two slices of 100% whole grain bread for lunch; and a portion of whole grain pasta or brown rice for dinner, according to CPW.

That said, Homer added the importance of governments and industry increasing the availability of whole grain foods to people around the world.

The 2017 International Whole Grain Summit, taking place in Vienna, Austria, from November 13-15, brings together stakeholders in the whole grain supply chain to review the latest scientific thinking, set priorities and agree on key actions that must be taken to increase whole grain intake.


Diet, nutrition and the prevention of chronic diseases: report of a Joint WHO/FAO Expert Consultation.​ WHO Technical Report Series, No. 916. Geneva: World Health Organization; 2003.

Eva Qing Ye, Sara Chacko, Elizabeth L Chou, Matthew Kugizaki, Simin Liu. Greater Whole-Grain Intake Is Associated with Lower Risk of Type 2 Diabetes, Cardiovascular Disease, and Weight Gain​.​ The Journal of Nutrition 2012, 142. 1304-13.

Dagfinn Aune, Doris S M Chan, Rosa Lau, et al. Dietary fibre, whole grains, and risk of colorectal cancer: systematic review and doseresponse meta-analysis of prospective studies.​ BMJ 2011, 343.

KD Mann, MS Pearce, B McKevith, F Thielecke, CJ Seal. Low whole grain intake in the UK: results from the National Diet and Nutrition Survey rolling programme 2008–11.​ British Journal of Nutrition 2015, 113(10), 1643-1651.

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