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Dairy Facts 2016

New MyPlate Icon Highlights Dairy’s Role in Healthy Meals

Jun 02, 2011

First Lady Michelle Obama joined Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and U.S. Surgeon General Regina Benjamin today to release a new icon that illustrates the recommendations of the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The MyPlate icon depicts a dinner plate with four sections for fruits, vegetables, grains and protein, accompanied by a smaller circle labeled "dairy" to represent a glass of milk or a cup of other, specified dairy products.

This icon will replace the MyPyramid symbol originally developed to accompany the 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. MyPlate does not indicate serving sizes or numbers of recommended servings, but it depicts the proportion of each type of food to be consumed.

"We're delighted that this new education tool provides a clear, visual message that milk and other dairy products are important for a nutritious diet," said Connie Tipton, IDFA president and CEO. "The dairy industry commends the USDA for highlighting how beneficial a serving of dairy at every meal can be, and for educating people about dairy's role on the table and in the American diet."

The U.S. Department of Agriculture also launched a new website,, to provide more in-depth and specific information for consumers. In one of the major messages under the "Foods to Increase" heading, USDA urges consumers to "switch to low-fat or fat-free milk." The website also clarifies that a variety of dairy foods are included in the dairy group, including fluid milk, cheese, yogurt and ice cream. USDA also gives those who are lactose intolerant alternate options for including dairy, such as cheese, yogurt, lactose-free milk or calcium-fortified soymilk, which is included in the dairy group. The website answers the following questions and highlights the health and nutrition benefits of dairy products.

The message from the Dietary Guidelines to limit calories from added sugars and solid fat, including milkfat, is reiterated at Consumers are urged to make most of their dairy selections low-fat or fat-free and are reminded that the added sugars in sweetened milk products contribute toward the limit for "empty calories."

Dairy companies can use the new icon to help educate consumers about the importance of including dairy as part of every meal to meet their recommended levels of intake for dairy. The website identifies a number of strategies that consumers can use to increase their consumption of dairy products, and dairy companies can reinforce these strategies in their educational campaigns.

For more information, contact Michelle Matto, IDFA nutrition and labeling consultant, at, or Cary Frye, IDFA vice president for regulatory and scientific affairs, at

Read joint industry news release, "New MyPlate Highlights Dairy as an Essential Part of Every Meal."


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