The food industry has developed a definition for whole grains in foods and set a minimum level of inclusion.

IGD's working group on nutrition has recommended that packaged goods claiming the presence of whole grain should contain at least 8g of whole grain per serving.

Whole grains should include the entire germ, endosperm and bran, it said.Temporary separation of these parts during processing was acceptable, provided the proportions were the same or virtually the same as in the original grain.

However, recombined bran, germ and endosperm from different cereals, for example wheat plus oats, did not qualify as whole grain, and making this claim would be misleading to consumers, the group said.

Foods that commonly contain whole grains include breads, breakfast cereals, brown rice and pastas.

"People who consume diets rich in whole grains seem to have a lower incidence of many chronic diseases, including heart disease and diabetes, but despite these benefits, intakes in the UK remain low," said Dr Clare Leonard, chair of the working group.

"It is crucial that consumers understand and trust claims about whole grains. For this reason, IGD has brought together key figures to guide and clarify the thinking ."