In response to the 1990 Nutrition Labeling and Education Act, the Food and Drug Administration approved seven health claims that addressed the relationship between broad food categories and risk of certain chronic diseases. These claims are based on scientific consensus that includes epidemiological, animal and clinical research. The Food and Drug Administration also established a process to petition for new health claims that address substance-disease relationships supported by adequate scientific and specific regulatory requirements. The whole grain-cancer and heart disease authoritative statement health claim approved in July 1999 followed a completely different process mandated by the Food and Drug Administration Modernization Act of 1997. It is based on an authoritative statement made by a government body that represents scientific consensus and is supported by other scientific agencies and organizations. The scientific basis for the claim published in Diet and Health reflects a comprehensive and deliberative review of epidemiological, animal and human studies by the National Academy of Sciences Committee on Diet and Health. Health claims used on whole-grain products can attract the attention of health-conscious consumers and are important tools in communicating health messages. However, the US public consumes substantially fewer whole-grain servings than recommended by US dietary guidance. Reasons given by consumers for not purchasing whole-grain foods include colour, price, softness, texture, moisture content and taste. Developing tastier value-added whole-grain foods along with simple coordinated messages from industry, the scientific community, public health experts and government will help consumers identify, purchase and consume more whole-grain products.