VIENNA WHOLE GRAIN DECLARATION - A Call to Action for Increasing Whole Grain Intake

from the participants of the 6th International Whole Grain Summit in Vienna 2017


For over three decades, repeated studies have clearly demonstrated that people eating more whole grains have reduced risks of many diseases compared to those eating less. This has led many countries to adopt specific recommendations for people to choose whole grain-based foods instead of refined grain-based foods. Yet current data suggest that whole grain intake in most countries remains well below existing recommended levels, which is a concern for long-term public health.

To increase whole grain intake, efforts cannot be limited to one or two stakeholders, and must be addressed using the combined efforts of all parties involved in the food supply chain. For this reason, more than 200 renowned experts and leading stakeholders, representing more than 35 countries, came together at the 6th International Whole Grain Summit, 13-15 November 2017 in Vienna, Austria, with the common goal of creating a collective action plan to increase whole grain intake worldwide, for the health and well-being of all people.

This declaration reflects the experts’ consensus on the principal goals that must be addressed, and the actions that must be taken in order to increase whole grain intake.


Four key goals must be met to drive whole grain acceptance and product availability, and to create and execute appropriate communication and education programs. Using the World Café discussion process, Whole Grain Summit participants identified the following goals and specific action points that will help achieve them:





Reach consensus on a global definition of a whole grain (raw materials) and on the definition of a whole grain food.

•    Convene a global working group including key grain science groups and experts from diverse regions, to finalize a definition of whole grain (raw materials) using the Healthgrain Forum definition as a starting point.

•    Follow a similar process for defining a whole grain food, once a global intake recommendation has been agreed (see below).


Intake Recommendation
Reach consensus on recommended quantitative whole grain intake, backed up by both health and economic research.

•    Document the health evidence for a specific whole grain intake recommendation.

•    Commission an evaluation of the economic impact on health care costs, productivity and other factors, from following such an intake.

•    Prepare a report detailing the intake recommendation and its economic impact, that can be delivered to policy makers globally.


Reach consensus about the contributions of whole grains to sustainable diets and the health of the planet.

•    Document the carbon footprint of whole grains compared to other dietary choices, in the context of growing world populations and climate change.


Promotion and Education
Form ongoing partnerships working together to increase whole grain consumption and to disseminate authoritative whole grain statements and campaigns globally.

•    Create a “how-to” kit detailing ways to create public-private partnerships (involving entities such as WHO, FAO, nutrition non-profits, disease associations, governments, etc.) and how these partners can best work together.

•    Develop evidence-based fact sheets addressing popular myths/questions about whole grains and possible emotional appeals (tied to local cultures) to gives these facts greater impact.



To carry out the action points necessary to meet the key goals, Whole Grain Summit participants agreed to work together on a global “Whole Grain Initiative” and to initiate the following six international working groups. All relevant experts worldwide are invited to participate in these groups, by contacting ICC at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

  • International Working Group on Whole Grain Definition(s)
  • International Working Group on Whole Grain Intake Recommendation(s)
  • International Working Group on the Economic Evaluation of Increased Whole Grain Intake


  • International Working Group on Sustainable Whole Grain Consumption
  • International Working Group on Best Practices for Public-Private Partnerships
  • International Working Group on Fact Based Whole Grain Information

This Vienna Whole Grain Declaration was drafted at the 6th International Whole Grain Summit, 13-15 November 2017 with the participation of experts from the following organisations: [will be listed upon formal confirmation]



The Whole Grain Summit 2017 organisers were:

The International Association for Cereal Science and Technology (ICC)

ICC is an independent, internationally recognized organisation of experts specialising in the milling of wheat and other cereals, bread making, and the production of other cereal-based foods from around the world. In more recent times ICC has expanded its focus to address issues that contribute to improved food quality, food safety and food security for the health and well-being of all people. ICC is an apolitical forum for all cereal scientists and technologists, a publisher of international standard methods and a scientific journal, an organiser of major national and international events in the field, a promoter of international cooperation on a global, regional and national level as well as a significant player in coordinating and participating in international research projects.

Healthgrain Forum (HGF)

The Forum, based in Europe and with links worldwide, is an active network of universities, institutes and industries interested in grain and grain-based products. Its vision is that whole grain and high fibre grain-based foods assist consumers in health maintenance worldwide, help reduce health care costs and provide added value for companies in the production chain from farm to fork. The Forum formulates priorities for research communications activities, with the overall aim of increasing consumers' intake of protective components in whole grains.

University of Minnesota

The Department of Food Science and Nutrition at the University of Minnesota creates and shares knowledge to ensure a safe, healthy, and appealing food supply that supports the well-being and prosperity of people and the environment. Innovating together to improve health through food is one of its main goals and it is committed to: Discovery, outreach, and teaching that is ethical, rigorous, and relevant; being collaborative and compassionate; work guided by integrity, innovation, and diversity guide our work; and an approach and focus shaped by excellence and service to society.

Further information on the Whole Grain Summit 2017 can be found at



Whole Grain Declaration - English - DOWNLOAD

Whole Grain Declaration - Chinese - DOWNLOAD


Other links:

EU Science Hub on Whole Grain 

Global Whole Grain Definition - Draft document for discussion - 20181021

Definition of Whole Grain as Food Ingredient - 20190501c


The Best Dietary Change According to Experts? Switching to Whole Grains  

Vienna, 18.12.2017. New data on the links between diet and health show that replacing refined grains with whole grains globally could reduce the burden of chronic disease more than any other change – including better-known approaches such as reducing sodium, eliminating trans fats or even cutting sugar-sweetened beverages.

This eye-opening data from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation was revealed during the keynote address at the recent Whole Grain Summit in Vienna. In response to the urgent public health challenge documented by experts speaking at this event, more than 200 scientists from 36 countries participating in the Whole Grain Summit worked to craft a two-year global action plan to increase whole grain consumption.

“Worldwide, cereals provide nearly 50% of energy intake,” said Prof Dr Fred Brouns, Scientific Chair of the Whole Grain Summit. “Yet the vast majority of these foods are composed of refined grains and flours. Research shows that health benefits from whole grains are associated with replacing as little as two servings of refined grain/flour foods with whole grain foods.” More than two decades of studies indicate that consuming whole grain foods, instead of refined grains and foods made from white flour, is directly related to a lower mortality risk and reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and obesity, and bowel cancer.

Academics, non-profit organizations, government policymakers, and industry, working together at the Whole Grain Summit, contributed a dynamic breadth and depth of knowledge to the task of creating a Whole Grain Declaration and long-term action plan. Key goals and action points will aim to:

  1. Reach a consensus on a global whole grain definition, to support clear product labelling that will help consumers distinguish whole grain products from those with misleading claims.
  2. Establish a quantitative, science-based whole grain intake recommendation and document the health and economic benefits that would result from adopting this recommendation. Use this information to motivate governments and international food authorities to incorporate whole grains into dietary guidelines and actively promote their consumption. 
  3. Document the carbon footprint of whole grains, compared with other dietary choices, in the context of growing world populations and climate change.
  4. Form strong public-private partnerships to develop campaigns to encourage whole grain consumption and to increase the variety, availability and desirability of whole grain foods for the public.

Six international working groups have already been established to carry out the goals agreed in Vienna. Over the next two years, participants in these groups will work intensively under the name of the “Whole Grain Initiative”, and will interact with the WHO (World Health Organization), FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations), EFSA (European Food Safety Agency) and other consortia and food authorities as part of the action plan.

The Whole Grain Summit 2017 was organised by ICC (International Association for Cereal Science and Technology) in cooperation with the Healthgrain Forum and the University of Minnesota. Ongoing work of the Whole Grain Initiative will also be organised by the same three partners.

Note for the PRESS:
For more information contact:
Michaela Pichler
Secretary General | CEO
ICC – International Association for Cereal Science and Technology
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
+ 431 7077 202 0

ICC - International Association for Cereal Science and Technology

Marxergasse 2
1030 Wien

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