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What Is the Difference between Wholemeal and Wholegrain?

Clients: Hi Dietitian, can you share with me about the difference between wholemeal and wholegrain products? I really confused between these two products and its difference.

Dietitian: Hi, thank you for such a wonderful question. I believe that many of them out there will also have this question in their mind too. I hope the below article will answer your question.


In the EU, there is not a legal minimum requirement for when a product can be labelled as wholemeal and the legislation varies between individual countries. So, whether your product contains 6% wholemeal or 66%, both can use the wholemeal label in the EU but it depends on the country. The only legal requirement is that bread cannot be advertised as wholemeal if it is not present as an ingredient. However, in the US, the FDA requires the product to contain at least 51% unrefined grain ingredients’ by weight.


The use of the wholemeal/wholegrain healthy halo is therefore often used as a marketing ploy to drive consumers into believing their products are healthier, when in fact it might not be one of the main ingredients. For many consumers, wholemeal products are indicative of higher fibre content and are therefore considered much healthier. However, contrary to popular belief, this is not the case as fibre content varies from grain to grain. Therefore, just because a product carries the wholemeal label, this does not automatically make it healthier and is dependent on the other ingredients within the product.


The terms ‘wholemeal’ and ‘wholegrain’ share a definition but there are many organisations such as the Real Bread Campaign in the UK who are fighting for the legislation to be changed. With a current demand from consumers for clearer labelling and a better understanding of what is in the products we consume, a change in the legislation surrounding wholemeal products is definitely needed.




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  1. European Commission - EU Science Hub (2019) Whole Grain. Retrieved from

  2. UK Government - Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (1998) The Bread and Flour Regulations. Retrieved from



Adam John Douch, BSc Nutrition, University of Nottingham