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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

  • 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
  • Twenty Years of the Nutrition Facts Panel

    January 17, 2013
    In what could be a preview of one of the hot nutrition topics for this coming year, FDA just released a consumer notice celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Nutrition Facts panel and giving a hint to updates that could be coming for nutrition labeling. When the final rule announcing the Nutrition Facts panel was released on January 6, 1993, the formatting and information of the panel was unlike any other nutrition label. Since then, many countries have mandated nutrition labeling similar to the U.S. Nutrition Facts. The intent of the panel was to provide consumers with consistent information on a variety of nutrients, particularly to help consumers choose lower levels of some nutrients and higher levels of others. The only major change to the Nutrition Facts since it was introduced was the addition of trans fat as a mandatory nutrient in 2003. Possible changes that could be made to nutrition labeling include updated Reference Amount Customarily Consumed (RACC) and serving sizes, more prominence for serving size and calorie content, new mandatory nutrients, and updated Daily Values. Since any changes to the Nutrition Facts panel would affect all packaged foods and beverages, IDFA will definitely be commenting on any proposed changes released this year. I think the big nutrition issues of 2013 probably will be updates to nutrition labeling, proposed nutrition standards for competitive foods in schools and the start of work on the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Stay tuned for more on all of these, plus whatever else comes up ... Read More
  • Five Tips for a Healthy, Happy New Year

    January 11, 2013
    IDFA supports the Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation and the Together Counts initiative. The messages below can be shared with your customers to encourage them to make healthy, nutritious choices through the New Year! Beginning a new year with a long list of resolutions can be a good exercise in trying to capture everything about your life you want to improve. However, tackling more than three to five goals at a time can be daunting. A short list of positive, actionable goals will show results in the short term, boosting your confidence for a longer lasting impact throughout 2013. The most published lists of popular New Year’s resolutions report diet and exercise among the top five. What’s on your list? Being more active? Carving out quality family time? Connecting with your community? Try our tips for a more balanced, connected new year!
    1. Embrace energy balance. We are a member of the Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation (HWCF), which touts living a more active, healthy lifestyle by starting with “energy balance”—balancing the calories you consume with the calories you burn through exercise. A free, downloadable Energy Balance: 101 curriculum is being used by thousands of schools, and its simple message resonates. Find out more.
    1. Make family meal time work for your family. The time of day that could be restful and connecting for your family can have the opposite effect. Balance your weekdays by thinking through what works best in your household. Aim for a few meals together each week and pat yourself on ...
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