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Grain Chain, Led by American Bakers Association, Testifies on Health Benefits of Increased Grain Servings

The Grain Chain, a farm to fork coalition of stakeholders in the grain industry sector and chaired by the American Bakers Association (ABA), testified today on the nutritional benefits of bread and grain-based products at the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) meeting. The recommendations in the Committee’s scientific report, due next year, will form the basis of the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGAs). The DGAs are the cornerstone of all Federal nutrition policy and nutrition education guidelines, shaping consumer health decisions and doctor recommendations.

“The Grain Chain endorses maintaining the 2015 DGAs recommendation of carbohydrate intakes between 45-65% of calories and at a minimum, the recommended six servings daily of traditional grains with at least half as whole grains,” testified Kathy Wiemer, MS, RD, speaking on behalf of the Grain Chain. “Further, given that Americans continue to underconsume whole grains, we support an increase in daily recommended Whole Grain servings, while maintaining at least three servings of Enriched grains.”

The testimony and written comments highlighted key recommendations:

  • Both whole and enriched grains play a leading role in diet quality
  • Enrichment, Fortification of grain foods have made lasting contributions to health
  • Total grain consumption results in positive health outcomes
  • Grains are important to growth and development in infants and children
  • The current body of scientific evidence does not support a recommendation of low-carbohydrate dietary patterns to the U.S. population
  • Grain food manufacturers are constantly innovating to improve the nutritional profile of their products and deliver more health benefits to consumers

“Cumulatively, research shows that a variety of grain choices consumed across all age groups contribute to nutrient density in the total diet and have the potential to increase consumption of shortfall nutrients, particularly dietary fiber, folate, and iron,” said Wiemer.

Wiemer emphasized, “We believe it is premature to recommend low-Carbohydrate Dietary Patterns to the US population. Research data for low-carb diets is inconsistent for both diabetes and weight loss or maintenance outcomes.”

“Related to chronic disease risks, multiple meta-analyses evaluating grain consumption show little to no association with all cause mortality, CHD, CVD, Type 2 diabetes and certain cancers,” added Wiemer. “These meta-analyses separately address total grain, whole grain and refined grain consumption and reinforce the important role that grains play in health outcomes.”

“New research and data in the grain science space brings strong evidence showing both whole and enriched grains are important sources of valuable nutrition for Americans,” said Lee Sanders, SVP of Government Relations & Public Affairs, American Bakers Association “We highlight the importance of transparency and the need to base dietary recommendations on the preponderance of strong scientific evidence.”

Others in the Grain Chain weighed in on the strong scientific evidence supporting grain-based foods for optimal health at any life stage.

“AIB International supports the ongoing efforts of the Grain Chain to provide informed guidance on the development of the 2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) which includes scientific evidence on the benefits of grain-based products as a component of a complete diet,” said Valerie Olson, Senior Director, Bakery Consulting and Food Labeling, at AIB. “Continued outreach and educational efforts for food manufacturers remains critical to ensure clear, accurate dietary guidance is provided to consumers so they can make informed choices.”

“Wheat and grain- based foods provide nourishment as well as sustenance and truly are the basis of a healthy diet. Without wheat and other grains, key nutrients such as B vitamins, folate, iron, and fiber would be lacking in the diets of Americans,” said Tim O’Connor, President of the Wheat Foods Council.

Nick Pyle, President of the Independent Bakers Association, highlighted the importance of combining whole and enriched grains as part of a healthy diet. "I'm pleased the Grain Chain is unified around the notion that a diverse diet, rich in several types of grains, is best; I'm optimistic the DGAC will conclude the same," he said.

Christine Cochran, Executive Director of the Grain Foods Foundation said, “The Grain Foods Foundation is very pleased with the comments the Grain Chain has submitted to the USDA DGAC. The unity of our message and the importance of its being heard remain a top priority: the nutritional contribution of grains is not optional – but rather is essential in the diet at all stages of life.”

“As a member of the Grain Chain, the North American Millers’ Association (NAMA) supports efforts to provide input on the 2020-2025 U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGAs). Both enriched and whole grains contribute to a healthy and complete diet,” said James McCarthy President & CEO, NAMA. “And recent research has shown that consuming both enriched and whole grains has the potential to increase the in-take of many shortfall nutrients such as dietary fiber, folic acid and other key nutrients.”

"The Retail Bakers of America are proud to be included in this dynamic group,” said Bernadette Shanahan-Haas, Director of Operations at the Retail Bakers of America. “Industry partnerships, such as the Grain Chain with the American Bakers Association, are so important to the Retail Baking industry. It allows us to have the strength in numbers to help our members understand, educate and develop the 2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA)."

-About the Grain Chain-
ABA leads the Grain Chain whose members include: American Bakers Association, American Institute of Baking, Grain Foods Foundation, Independent Bakers Association, National Pasta Association, National Association of Wheat Growers, North American Millers Association, Retail Bakers of America, Wheat Foods Council, and USA Rice Federation.

-American Bakers Association-
The American Bakers Association (ABA) is the Washington D.C.-based voice of the wholesale baking industry. Since 1897, ABA has worked to increase protection from costly government overreach, build the talent pool of skilled workers with specialized training programs, and forge industry alignment by establishing a more receptive environment to grow the baking industry. ABA advocates on behalf of more than 1,000 baking facilities and baking company suppliers. ABA members produce bread, rolls, cookies, crackers, bagels, sweet goods, tortillas, and many other wholesome, nutritious, baked products feeding America’s families. The baking industry generates more than $153 billion in economic activity annually and employs more than 799,500 highly skilled people.

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