Oldways is a nonprofit food and nutrition education organization, with a mission to guide people to good health through heritage.
|Dear Whole Grains Council members,|
A Happy New Year to everyone. We hope that 2013 is off to a good start for all of you. At the WGC office, our new year kicked off with one of our favorite things - an in-person visit from a WGC member. Barbara's Bakery, a WGC Founding Member, just moved their operations from California to the Weetabix NA offices here in Massachusetts. We enjoyed meeting with our "new neighbors" as Mallory reported in a recent blog. Stop by and see us too, if you're ever in Boston.
|Flawed Harvard Study Stirs Controversy|
|Researchers associated with the Harvard School of Public Health published a study last week that purports to show that foods bearing the Whole Grain Stamp tend to be higher in calories and sugar than foods without the Stamp. We expect you'll see references to this study so we wanted to share our response.|
The study promotes the idea of labeling any food with at least 1 gram of fiber for every 10 grams of carbohydrate as a "better alternative" to the Stamp. This 10:1 approach would forbid labeling brown rice, wild rice, sorghum or whole cornmeal as whole grains -- while allowing a wide range of refined products with added isolated fiber, even if they contained absolutely no whole grain. This makes no sense to us (nor, we think, would it fly with FDA!).
In a nutshell, we feel that the study - which included just 113 breads, crackers, bars, cold cereals and chips that constitute 1.7% of US products bearing the Stamp - is seriously flawed. For instance, its definition of whole grain includes corn bran, psyllium husk, and six other non-whole-grains. Plus the study was skewed toward products containing sugar: 68% of the Stamped products reviewed were breakfast cereals and granola bars, while these products make up only 22% of US products using the Stamp.
We've documented our findings in a rebuttal on the WGC website at http://wholegrainscouncil.org/newsroom/blog/2013/01/wgc-rebuts-harvard-study-stands-behind-wg-stamp . We have been contacting publications that print the Harvard press release, and sharing our point of view, which has resulted in some strong supportive stories like these ones in Food Business News and Bakery & Snacks.
Please don't hesitate to Cynthia Harriman (617-896-4820 or [email protected]) if you have any questions
or would like more details on the study and on our response. The Stamp is a useful and trusted packaging symbol that has helped increase consumption of whole grains, and we will always defend its value.
|New Search Helps Consumers Find Your Products|
|To kick off the New Year in style, we've made some great upgrades to the WGC database of products using the Whole Grain Stamp. These changes will make it easier for the 70,000 consumers who visit the WGC site each month to find your great whole grain products. |
Start by taking a look at our Find Whole Grains / Stamped Products page. It's now possible for consumers to search by 49 different categories, by country -- and even by three additional factors: foodservice, gluten free, and sprouted. Our original simple search worked fine originally but was overwhelmed by the runaway success of the Stamp. Consumers searching for foods in the Bread category, for instance, used to have to browse through 2,300 bread products! Now it's easy to find just the bagels in Canada, or the English muffins in the US.
Next, take a look at the changes in the Product Registration Form you fill out each time you submit a product to us for permission to use the Stamp. (Log in as you always do, then choose Register a Product.) You'll find that the list of new product categories is on the form, along with a way to add multiple countries and options for tagging your product as foodservice, gluten free, and sprouted.
Although we still encourage members to pick the ONE best category that describes their products, for hard-to-describe products you can now pick an extra category. So if you sell your granola as a breakfast cereal and as a snack you can select "Granola & Meusli" under Breakfast and "Trail & Snack Mix" under Savory & Sweet Snacks. Or, if you make a ciabatta dough, you can select both "Doughs & Baking Mixes" and "Artisan Breads." Then, no matter which category potential purchasers search for, they'll find your products.
We've also folded our Foodservice list (formerly a separate list) into this main search engine, so the same powerful search features used by consumers can be used by Foodservice operators looking for whole grain products that will meet their needs.
We carried out a massive recoding project over the holidays, and did our best to classify every member's products. That said, we know you may want to reclassify some foods, or tell us if your products are gluten free or made only from sprouted grains. Contact Mallory Cushman ([email protected], 617-896-4832) or Karen Mansur ([email protected], 617-896-4880) if you have any questions about using the new features on the Product Registration Form, or if you would like to change or add categories, countries, or other search factors to any of your products.
|Sampling Day WGC Conference Call January 24th|
|Our next WGC member conference call will take place on Thursday January 24 at 2:00 EST. The topic is Whole Grain Sampling Day, and the call-in number is 866-843-8301, code 475-228-6978#. Join us for brainstorming if you're available.|
Now's the time to get serious about your company's plans for Whole Grain Sampling Day on April 3. As those of you who were members last year know, this national event reaches out to consumers and encourages them to try new whole grain foods. What can you do to help consumers discover how delicious whole grains can be?
This is a potluck event, which means we ALL need to bring something to the table. WGC will provide media support, and coordinate members' efforts, to create wonderful synergies, but these synergies only come about if LOTS of our members step up to the plate and do something special on April 3 or thereabouts.
Look at our report from last year's inaugural Sampling Day for inspiration, or participate in our upcoming member call. If you'd rather talk one-on-one, Karen Mansur is happy to hold individual brainstorming sessions with any members. Email her or simply pick up the phone (617-896-4880).
|Last Call for Feb WG Outreach to Supermarket RDs|
|Oldways, the WGC's parent organization, runs a new program that reaches out to Supermarket Dietitians. Called the Oldways Nutrition Exchange, or ONE, this new program has attracted signups from more than half of the nation's Supermarket RDs in just three months.|
Each month on the ONE portal we post themed "Toolkits" of resources like newsletter articles, blogs, tips, activities, store displays and demos. One of our February themes is Whole Grains. Do you have an educational or nutrition article or activity you'd like us to include in our Whole Grain Toolkit in February? You can participate for a very cost-effective $540 fee (a 10% discount off the normal $600) but time is running short and we have just a few slots left in this Toolkit. Contact Cynthia Harriman ([email protected] or 617-896-4820) or click here for a PDF about participating in the ONE program.
P.S. Got breakfast products? If you miss the Whole Grains Toolkit in February, consider our Breakfast 101 Toolkit in March!
Director of Food and Nutrition Strategies
... and from all of the Oldways and Whole Grains Council staff