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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

  • Competitive Foods Rule to Allow Many Dairy Products

    June 28, 2013
    Less than three months after receiving hundreds of thousands of public comments on the proposed nutrition standards for competitive foods and beverages in schools, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has released an interim final rule to finalize those nutrition standards. And these standards keep dairy in a strong position as competitive products in schools. Milk and dairy products are specifically allowed as competitive foods, which are foods and beverages sold at schools during the school day but not as part of the reimbursable school breakfast or lunch. This list could include yogurt parfaits, ice cream sandwiches or milk sold individually. The rule set nutritional limits set for saturated fat, trans fat, total sugars and calories, but these limits will still allow for a wide range of dairy products to be available to school children. A brief summary chart is available here. Several dairy products, both standardized and non-standardized, will be able to be available in schools when the nutrition rules go into effect for the 2014-2015 school year, including:
    • Low-fat or fat-free unflavored milk;
    • Fat-free flavored milk;
    • Reduced-fat cheese snacks, including part skim mozzarella cheese;
    • Low-fat ice cream novelties;
    • Frozen dairy desserts;
    • Frozen fruit juice bars;
    • Low-fat yogurt; and
    • Cultured dairy snacks.
    The interim final rule also clarified that non-nutritive sweeteners are allowed by the USDA rule, although schools could set stricter standards. USDA will accept comments on the interim rule through October 28, 2013. View the USDA infographic here. Read More
  • Say Hello to Summer!

    June 24, 2013
    We’re past Memorial Day and schools are letting out—we’ve definitely moved into summer! Summer seems to have a different feel—people want to spend time outside, take adventures with their friends and family and be generally more relaxed. For people headed out to one of the National Parks this summer, the National Parks Service has announced nutrition standards for food and beverage concessions at the parks. These standards require that, where milk and milk products are offered, low-fat and fat-free milk and milk products must be available. In addition, for entrees offered, at least two options available must be low in fat, low in sodium, light in calories and contain whole grains. In addition to these nutrition standards, the Parks Service also set requirements related to sustainable foods, including fair trade coffee, locally sourced items and hormone usage. But summer isn’t fun and games for all kids. For some, the end of school means the return of hunger. A recent report highlighted the number of children in the United States who are suffering from hunger in the summer, when they don’t have school lunch and breakfast to help provide healthy meals. “Hunger Doesn’t Take a Vacation,” the report from the Food Research and Action Center (where I used to work), shows the number of kids who are missing out on meals through the Summer Nutrition Programs. For every seven low-income children who eat school lunch during the regular school year, only one is able to eat summer meals. This leaves six of these ... Read More
  • Healthy Playgrounds. Happy Kids.

    June 12, 2013
    Schools are letting kids out for the summer, and they’re all looking for something to do and somewhere to play. The summer of 2013 is going to be extra special for thousands of children who know when they return to elementary school next fall, they’ll have new ways to play and be active. As a member of the Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation, we’ve helped get the word out to schools and families about Together Counts,™ a far-reaching anti-obesity initiative bolstered by our support and yours. We’re thrilled that our efforts will directly affect 7,000 students through this year’s grant program, aimed at communities who need it most, with more than $175,000 in playground equipment, sports gear and cash. We salute the top winners for each program below and invite you celebrate the winners from all 14 schools. Your local school might just be in the winner’s circle! Healthy Playground Makeover Sweepstakes Two grand-prize winning schools will receive $30,000 in cash and prizes plus a new playground.
    • Central Intermediate School, Central Louisiana: Winning entry cast by Music Teacher Johanna Benton
    • Seaford Manor Elementary School, Seaford New York: Winning entry cast by Parent/Volunteer Laurie Scimeca
    • More winners
    Find Your Balance Challenge William E. Russell Elementary in Dorchester Mass will receive $30,000 in cash and prizes and more.
    • Winning application submitted by P.E. Teacher Elizabeth Reynolds Lupo
    • More winners
    Healthier U.S. Schools Incentives Valasco Elementary school in Freeport Texas will receive a $10,000 cash prize.
    • Winning entry cast by Library Media ...
    Read More
  • Happy Birthday, MyPlate!

    June 06, 2013
    As we begin to look forward to the 2015 Dietary Guidelines, this week is the second birthday of the MyPlate symbol, which is based on the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. MyPlate replaced MyPyramid and the Food Guide Pyramid, which were the illustrated representations of earlier Dietary Guidelines. MyPlate was celebrated as a departure from the Pyramids in that it was more intuitive and easier for regular Americans to understand. Someone sitting down at dinner could look at his or her plate, mentally compare it to MyPlate and then adjust the servings, depending on whether they needed more or less of a particular type of food. Even preschoolers could understand it—I made a large MyPlate puzzle and took it to my sons’ day care center, letting the kids put together the pieces and talk about their favorite foods in each group. Fruits and vegetables comprise half of the main plate, with grains and protein on the other half. A smaller circle off to the side of the main plate indicates dairy. So what will happen to MyPlate after the 2015 Dietary Guidelines? Will it stay mostly the same, or be replaced by a new graphic? Read More
  • HHS, USDA Name 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee

    June 05, 2013
    The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack have announced the appointment of 15 nationally recognized experts to serve on the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee. The committee's recommendations and rationale will serve as a basis for the eighth edition of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Steven Abrams, M.D., a past member of the Milk Processor Education Program’s Medical Advisory Board, is one of the experts named to the 2015 committee. Abrams is a professor of pediatrics and the medical director for the Neonatal Nutrition Program at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas. He also is an adjunct professor at the University of Texas School of Public Health. In addition to serving as a representative for the American Academy of Pediatrics for more than 10 years, Abrams was an integral member of the MAB, reinforcing the role of milk in child nutrition and providing valuable counsel on MilkPEP’s programs and messages. He also is an expert on mineral requirements for children, including calcium, zinc, iron, magnesium and copper. He has served on the Institute of Medicine’s Panels on Calcium and Vitamin D and the Use of Dietary Reference Intakes in Nutrition Labeling, as well as the IOM Subcommittee on Upper Safe Reference Levels of Nutrients. Every five years, the Dietary Guidelines are updated and published jointly by HHS and USDA. The administrative responsibility for leading the process alternates between Departments. The Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion at HHS is ... Read More
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