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Michael F. Jacobson Headshot

Are Your 'Whole Grains' Truly Whole? Maybe. Maybe Not.

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Kellogg's probably wouldn't sell a lot of Eggo waffles of any variety if their labels proclaimed that the waffles were "made with water" and "mostly white flour." Yet water and white flour are the top two ingredients in Eggo Nutrigrain Whole Wheat Waffles, whose labels tout their "whole grain" and "whole wheat" content.

That's typical of many deceptive whole grain claims found in the supermarket. In preparation for a meeting with officials from the Food and Drug Administration, we at the nonprofit Center for Science in the Public Interest toured the supermarket to find examples of foods that made some kind of attempt to capitalize on the whole grain craze.

It's easy to see why food manufacturers are making whole grain claims. The federal government's Dietary Guidelines for Americans and urge people to "make half your grains whole." Some manufacturers are actually adding more whole grain to products in order to capitalize on whole grain's reputation for healthfulness. But some food manufacturers making whole grain claims or using words like "multigrain" on labels are just trying to obscure the fact that the products are mostly made with highly-refined white flour.

It's our hope that the FDA will require companies that are making such claims to disclose exactly what percentage of the touted grains are whole.

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