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About Nutrition Notes

Michelle Albee Matto Nutrition Notes Blog offers insight, news and analysis on nutrition, as well as food labeling. The blog is written by Michelle Albee Matto, who worked in IDFA's regulatory department for eight years, most recently as assistant director for nutrition and labeling.

Michelle now works exclusively for IDFA as a nutrition and labeling consultant. Contact her at

Michelle is a registered dietician and holds a Master of Public Health degree from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and a Bachelor of Science degree in nutrition from Russell Sage College in Troy, N.Y. She is an active member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and the Society for Nutrition Education.

Nutrition Notes

  • Healthy Holidays with Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation

    December 07, 2012
    IDFA is an associate member of the Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation (HWCF), a group of food companies and community organizations. The foundation's goal is to help families change their eating and activity habits by eating together more often and being active together. Each month, we post an update about current work of the HWCF. Feel free to share the information and resources with your customers. The holiday season brings plenty of parties, family gatherings and delicious food. For some, events like these bring anxiety about weight. The Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation, of which we are a member, emphasizes the importance of “energy balance” – balancing the calories you take in through food with those you burn through exercise. Try and set a goal this month to maintain this kind of balance. After dessert, take a walk around the neighborhood with your kids, or go ice skating or sledding. Winter activities provide great opportunities for exercise! Along with food and festivities, December is also a great time to start thinking about the year ahead – what you’d like to change, how you can contribute to your community and new goals to set for the months to come. In terms of energy balance goals, maybe you want to run a 5K or try a new recipe once a week. Through HWCF’s Together Counts ™ campaign, you can find a variety of tools that can help bring energy balance to your community. They have great (and free!) curriculum for teachers, nurses and parent-run after-school programs. ... Read More
  • More Companies Seek to Offer Lower-Sodium Products

    December 05, 2012
    Sodium intake continues to be a concern for many individuals who must limit their consumption for health reasons and for the public health communities trying to promote good health. Companies are stepping up to the challenge of lowering sodium in their products, including dairy foods. Continuing reformulation work and ingredient innovation have allowed companies to make advances in lowering sodium in a variety of products. Along with other companies debuting or expanding lower sodium products or lines, both Kraft and Nestle have made announcements over the past few months about their sodium reduction efforts. Ingredient suppliers, like Tate & Lyle, also continue to develop salt replacers that could help lower sodium levels in dairy products. In addition to working as individual companies, many cheese companies are joining their efforts as part of an Innovation Center for US Dairy working group to identify challenges facing the entire cheese industry and work toward solutions that will benefit cheesemakers and cheese consumers. One of the particular challenges for sodium reduction has been the intersection of product standards, nutrient content claims and product development. While a nutrient content claim such as “reduced sodium” would allow salt reducers to be used in standardized ... Read More
  • Pointing Out Protein

    November 20, 2012
    When Americans sit down to their Thanksgiving dinners this week, they probably aren’t thinking about the protein content of the turkey. But watching food trends, it certainly seems as though they’re considering protein most of the rest of the time. Whether viewing the exhibits at Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’s Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo last month or just taking a stroll through the grocery store, I can see that protein is a hot topic right now. Many popular diet plans encourage higher protein intake. And even if consumers have a hard time following through on the overall diet plan, many people are getting the message that protein intake is important. Protein is added to products as diverse as pasta and snack bars, and foods and beverages that naturally contain protein, such as dairy products, are touting it. Dairy proteins, including whey, casein and their derivatives, have been used for years as a source of high-quality protein for other products. Now standardized dairy products are making claims about the protein that is either naturally occurring or added.

    Greek Yogurt

    Greek yogurt itself has been a hot trend for the past few years, and the protein trend helps the popularity of these products. Many Greek yogurts naturally contain about twice as much protein as regular yogurt, and they often make claims about this in their labeling and advertising.

    Cottage Cheese

    Cottage cheese is an old favorite that can benefit from the protein craze. As a high protein food that is often low ... Read More
  • During Season of Giving Thanks, Together Counts™ Program Partners in Service

    November 14, 2012
    The leaves are changing, pumpkins are carved and people all over the country are making plans for Thanksgiving. The holidays are a great time to reflect on our blessings – family, friends and the opportunity around us. We are associate members of Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation, an organization dedicated to the fight against childhood obesity. Its goal is to reach families and schools, through its Together Counts program, to share an easy-to-understand message of “energy balance,” all in the hope that each child will understand what it takes to lead an active, healthy lifestyle. In the spirit of giving back, HWCF has formed a partnership with HOSA-Future Health Professionals. Teenagers are able engage their community by reaching out to local schools on behalf of HWCF. These high school students earn service time by encouraging schools to enter HWCF’s second annual Find Your Balance Challenge, where elementary school teams identify ways to make simple, healthy changes in their schools. Teams all over the United States are working together with their school’s stakeholders to write an action plan and take steps to improve energy balance, and HOSA students are serving as valuable mentors. It is this kind of community engagement that will truly make a difference in the lives of students. Fighting obesity is a group effort. Success will be the result of people from all communities and experiences working together, and we are grateful to be a part of that work with HWCF. In the spirit of the season, check out all ... Read More
  • Labeling for Health

    November 09, 2012
    Whenever I need to make a change in my diet or my family’s diet, I spend extra time reading food and beverage labels. Whether it’s avoiding peanuts because of an allergy, or preparing meals for a family member with high blood pressure or kidney disease, I check out food labels to ensure that the meals I serve are safe and healthy. This is true of most people: when consumers are looking to eat more healthfully, one of their prime sources of information is food labels. The International Food Information Council’s (IFIC) 2012 Food and Health Survey shows that consumers look at claims, the ingredient list and the Nutrition Facts panel for the information they want. The more consumers use food labels, the more likely they are to have a healthy weight. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently evaluated consumer understanding of front of pack symbols. The study results suggested that traffic lights for selected “nutrients to limit” plus calorie information may be the most helpful. However, there was also an indication that traffic lights can be confusing, since consumers may focus too much on a single “red light” on an overall healthy food product. Knowing that labels can seriously influence health, many organizations and individuals have strong feelings about what should be on them. The labeling recommendations include changes to the Nutrition Facts panel, nutrient content claims and front-of-pack labeling symbols. The Grocery Manufacturers Association and the Food Marketing Institute announced the development of a voluntary front-of-pack system they hope will be widely adopted ... Read More
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