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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

  • 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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  • Looking Backward, Looking Forward

    December 30, 2012
    This is the time of year where we look forward to the year that we’re just beginning. We’ve seen lots of big food and nutrition trends through 2012, and we’ll see these and other trends continue in 2013. The Internet is filled with predictions for the new year, so here are some of my predictions for dairy in 2013. Breakfast: One of the healthy habits commonly adopted by people who have successfully lost weight and kept it off is to eat breakfast every day. Breakfast is a great opportunity to highlight dairy’s nutritional benefits—milk on cereal, a cup of yogurt or even cheese on a breakfast sandwich. Snacking: Another eating pattern that’s been associated with maintaining a healthier weight is smaller meals or snacks through the day. There are so many dairy products that work perfectly as healthy snacks: individually wrapped sticks of cheese, a single serve drinkable yogurt or flavored milk. More protein: Americans are looking for more protein, and this trend will likely continue this year. Dairy is naturally a good source of protein, including lowfat and fat-free sources of protein like cottage cheese, Greek yogurt and milk. Less sugar: If people are looking for more protein in 2013, they’ll also be looking for a lot less sugar, especially added sugar. Processors have already done a lot of work to lower levels of sugar in flavored milk and are using non-caloric sweeteners in products like yogurt and ice cream. Some products even use filtration ... Read More
  • Looking Forward to…. 2015?

    December 19, 2012
    While the majority of us are looking forward to 2013, the public health and nutrition communities are already looking forward to 2015. The 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans process has already begun. Nominations for experts to serve on the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee were due last week. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) will review the nominations and appoint a committee of nutrition and health experts to make recommendations about the content of the new Dietary Guidelines. The first meeting of the Advisory Committee is planned for April 2013. Over the following 18 months, committee members will review current nutritional research and make recommendations about the content of a healthy diet for Americans over the age of 2. After the release of the Advisory Committee’s report, HHS and USDA will prepare a policy document that will guide the nutrition policy of the US government over the following 5 years, which will then be followed by the release of consumer-friendly documents. At this point, the official release of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans is expected to be in the fall of 2015. Additional consumer education materials, such as the “MyPlate” icon ( will then be launched after the Dietary Guidelines. The Dietary Guidelines is important because not only does it set the standard for nutrition recommendations from the federal government, it also serves as the nutritional basis for federal nutrition programs, such as the school meal programs. This means that ... Read More
  • Marketing to Kids

    December 17, 2012
    With Christmas coming up, I’m very aware of marketing to children. As the ads on TV are running, my kids are picking out exactly what car, truck or dinosaur they want me to buy for them. The “Pillow Pets” song is permanently stuck in my head. We talk about what advertisements say and don’t say, and most of the time I tell them “No, I’m not buying that” or “You can save your own money for that.” While marketing toys to kids is a sticky situation for parents, marketing of foods and beverages to kids has been targeted by public health experts as a cause of childhood obesity. In the past I’ve posted about the Interagency Task Force and an IOM committee focused on childhood obesity. Some food companies are taking voluntary action through the Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative (CFBAI), a project of the Better Business Bureau. The group has set uniform standards for the nutritional value of products that can be advertised to kids. All companies that are part of the CFBAI will need to align with the uniform standards by January of 2014. The IOM Standing Committee on Childhood Obesity Prevention recently provided an update on the efforts of government, food industry and food retailers related to marketing to kid. The one-day workshop featured speakers from advocacy groups, academics and the food industry. Dr. Ellen Wartella opened the session by citing two studies that she had published over the past year, looking at the progress made regarding marketing to ... Read More
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