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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

  • Dietary Guidelines Meeting Announced

    May 29, 2013
    The first meeting of the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) has been set for June 13-14, 2013. At this meeting the DGAC will review its charge, identify procedures that the committee will follow through the entire process and identify topics to examine for the 2015 Dietary Guidelines. You can attend the meetings in-person (the sessions will be held at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md.) or through a webinar.  If you plan to attend in-person or via webinar, you must register at I will be attending and will provide an update to IDFA’s Nutrition Working Group.  I will also be working with that group to consider submitting oral or written comments to the DGAC. Read More
  • Dietary Guidelines: Do They Actually Guide Diets?

    May 16, 2013
    Every five years, the U.S. government sets new recommendations about what foods and beverages Americans should choose. The last version of the Dietary Guidelines, released in 2010, recommended that all Americans nine and older should eat or drink three servings of low- fat and fat-free dairy each day. It also recommended that people consume less sodium, fewer added sugars and less solid fats, including saturated fat. But when nutrition researchers examine people’s diets, there’s a big difference between the Dietary Guidelines and how Americans actually eat. The Healthy Eating Index.was developed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to rate how closely people’s food choices align with the Dietary Guidelines. When compared to the 2010 Dietary Guidelines, Americans only meet the Dietary Guidelines’ recommendations for protein foods. Read more here. Nestle USA has conducted its own research and found that, on average, Americans meet the Dietary Guidelines less than two percent of the time, or about seven days a year. In response to this finding, Nestle USA has launched “Balance Your Plate” to encourage healthy eating. The “Balance Your Plate” resources are intended to help health professionals educate people about MyPlate and the Dietary Guidelines. Work on the next version of the Dietary Guidelines, due in 2015, will soon begin in earnest. The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) will begin meeting this spring or summer to review nutritional research and identify the healthiest eating plans for the American population. They will be looking for evidence to make recommendations regarding ... Read More
  • Mother May I?

    May 09, 2013
    As a mom, I make a lot of decisions about what my kids and family will eat and what activities we’ll participate in, which can have a lot of impact on the health of the whole family. This unique effect of a mom’s decisions on the health of kids and families is one of the reasons that the Milk Processor Education Program (MilkPEP) reaches out to moms to encourage milk consumption. It’s also one of the reasons that the Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation and other organizations are providing resources to help moms make healthier choices for their families. IDFA is a member of the Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation, which in 2010 enabled 16 food and beverage companies to come together in support of the First Lady’s fight against childhood obesity. HWCF made a commitment to reduce 1 trillion calories in the marketplace by the end of 2012 and 1.5 trillion by the end of 2015. It is appropriate to figure out what we can do to make mom’s life easier during the month when we all are celebrating our moms. After all, she is often on the front lines of family health. From menu planning and food shopping to meal preparation and family activities, mom knows what’s best for her family and how best to work all of this change into her active, healthy lifestyle. The commitment to reduce calories from the marketplace was in an effort to provide more choices to moms and dads. Armed with new options and marketplace solutions, ... Read More
  • Product Labeling Claims See Renewed Growth

    April 03, 2013
    Labeling claims are big business, with more than 43 percent of products introduced in 2010 bearing one or more claims. According to a report recently introduced by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, claims have become even more important in recent years, with more claims per label and new claims becoming popular. The report looked at new product introduction between 1989 and 2010, examining the types of claims, the number of claims and also the percentage of new products making claims. Based on information in the “Introduction of New Food Products With Voluntary Health- and Nutrition-Related Claims, 1989-2010,” the number of claims made on new products fell after the implementation of the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act (NLEA) in 1993 and 1994, presumably as companies adapted to new definitions for claims. However, the use of claims, especially obesity-related claims, rebounded during the 2001-2010 period. “Growing consumer demand for food products that contribute to overall health beyond basic nutri¬tion may have provided manufacturers with incentives to supply and promote these products,” the report said. Looking specifically at dairy foods, the report found that 56 percent of new dairy products (milk, yogurt, cheese) made claims in 1989, followed by a significant decrease to only 46 percent in 2009. However, dairy product claims rebounded to nearly 55 percent in 2010. The use of claims for milk, yogurt, ice cream and desserts increased from 1989 to 2010, while claims on cheese have decreased. The report also identified trends in specific claims, such as an increase in trans fat ... Read More
  • Nutrition Competition

    February 20, 2013
    Often, if kids don’t like the daily meal offering in the cafeteria, there is a wide variety of other foods for them to pick from in the school or even in the cafeteria itself. Fruits and yogurt are available, but chips and snack cakes are, too. This line up of competitive food options in schools is going to change with the goal of ensuring that healthier choices are available to students.  Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Agriculture released a proposed rule on nutrition standards for competitive foods in schools. This is a partner to last year’s updated nutrition standards for school meals, which went into effect for the 2012-2013 school year. Competitive foods are foods or beverages that are sold on school property during school hours, but they are not part of the reimbursable meals. The proposed nutrition standards would apply to a la carte items in the cafeteria, in vending machines or in school stores. USDA has proposed requirements that each food or beverage would need to meet in order to be sold in schools. In some cases, USDA proposed two different options and specifically asked for comments on which approach it should select. The proposal would set minimum requirements for the type of food and nutrients of concern that the food item must contain, while also setting limits on total fat, saturated fat, trans fat, sodium, sugar and calories. Beverages are limited to water, low-fat and fat-free milk and 100 percent juice, with some other low-calorie ... Read More
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