The Free Press, Mankato, MN


July 2, 2013

Graff: Guide to understanding food packaging terms


“Organic” means at least 95 percent of ingredients were grown following USDA regulations.

“Whole Grain”: This is a tricky one. Some packaging claims that the product is “100 percent wheat,” which does not necessarily mean “whole grain.” The FDA defines a whole grain as being non-refined and having all the naturally occurring parts of the entire kernel — including the bran, germ and endosperm. Examples include barley, buckwheat, oats, rye and wheat. Make sure to check the ingredient list. The first ingredient should be “whole.”

“Wheat”: Some wheat products have the germ removed and as a result you get a processed product. Be careful: Many breads are colored brown to give the illusion of whole wheat when really it’s just molasses. Again, read the ingredient list.

Don’t let fancy packaging or advertising fool you! If it helps, copy this list down and carry it with you the next time you are grocery shopping.

Lisa Van Hout provided information for this article.

April Graff is a registered dietitian for Hy-Vee stores in Mankato. She can be reached with questions at

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