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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

  • Listen Up! IDFA’s Labeling Webinars Next Week

    December 05, 2013
    Next week I will be presenting at IDFA’s Labeling Webinar series. Cary Frye, IDFA VP for scientific and regulatory affairs, and I will be discussing labeling basics, as well as labeling claims that can be made on dairy products. We’ll also be covering labeling hot topics, such as hormone labeling, the new gluten-free claims and organic labeling. We’re very happy that Maile Hermida, an associate from Hogan Lovells US LLP, will also be presenting on lawsuits related to natural labeling and other labeling issues. The webinar will be held Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. Eastern time. You can still register and learn more about labeling from the comfort of your own office. Visit the webinar microsite for more details and to register. I hope to “see” you on the webinar next week! Read More
  • For the Love of Food!

    November 04, 2013
    I was one of more than 8,000 attendees at the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetic’s (AND’s) Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo (FNCE) held last week in Houston, Texas. The sessions always include a variety of topics, some of them very specific to a particular area of dietetics and some that are of wide interest to professionals involved in food and nutrition. While I heard a number of good sessions, I felt like many of them spoke to the same trend: appreciation of food has a place alongside the science of nutrition. Registered Dietitian, Food Network host and lifelong food lover Ellie Krieger gave a historical perspective of the nutrition field, showing that some of the earliest dietitians were just as interested in culinary matters and enjoyment of food as the specific substances that people eat. While nutrition has become much more of a science, focused on intakes of nutrients and food-based substances, Krieger urged the audience to consider the enjoyment of food, particularly healthy food, as much as an important part of nutrition as the exact intake of specific nutrients. Another session examined what causes people to select particular foods and make other food-related decisions, including many of the psychological and sensual reasons for food choices. Many registered Dietitian Nutritionists (RDNs got into the field of dairy foods because they love food in general or dairy foods specifically (maybe cheese or ice cream?). While it’s so easy to get caught up in the little details of the job, maybe we can ... Read More
  • Help in the Fight Against Hunger

    September 16, 2013
    Before I worked for IDFA, I worked at the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC), one of the organizations leading the fight against hunger in the United States.  FRAC’s approach to reducing hunger is to ensure that the federal nutrition programs are widely available to the people in need of them,  and these programs help people get access to healthy foods like dairy products. These federal nutrition programs include the school meal programs, the Child and Adult Care Food Program, the supplemental nutrition program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as Food Stamps.  There certainly has been a great overlap between my former and current work. Another anti-hunger organization, Feeding America , is a coalition of food banks across the United States.  This month, Feeding America is coordinating Hunger Action Month to encourage awareness of hunger and action toward reducing the rate of hunger in this country. USDA released a report this month, estimating the number of Americans who experience hunger or food insecurity.  USDA found that 14.5% of American households were food insecure at some point during 2012, meaning that there was difficulty providing enough food for everyone in the household because of insufficient funds.  More than half of these households use SNAP, WIC or the school lunch program in order to help get the food they need. So this month, celebrate the role that dairy companies play in reducing hunger by being an integral part of federal nutrition programs.  And consider what ... Read More
  • So What Is the 'Food System?'

    September 04, 2013
    All of a sudden, I seem to be hearing about the “food system” on a daily basis. This term has been used in discussions of the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, there are workshops at the Institute of Medicine about it and universities are developing programs about it. But what exactly is the food system, and how do dairy companies fit? Here’s a good definition of the food system from Cornell University that describes all the pieces that are included.

    “All processes involved in keeping us fed: growing, harvesting, processing (or transforming or changing), packaging, transporting, marketing, consuming and disposing of food and food packages. It also includes the inputs needed and outputs generated at each step.” 1

    It can be thought of as a “farm to fork” view of food. Discussions of the food system often touch on sustainability of food production, availability of particular types of foods and people’s eating patterns—these issues are all linked. Food systems can be thought of on global scale or on a very local scale. View an infographic here. Dairy companies fit right in the middle of the process of the food system with processing and packaging dairy products. This is a link between milk production and the ultimate consumer, with companies using resources like raw materials or processing methods and transforming them into a food or beverage that people will choose to eat or drink. If there is a break down at any particular point in the food system, such as an inability to ... Read More
  • Firing Up Physical Activity at School and at Home

    August 12, 2013
    Working in the food industry, we often look at obesity from a food perspective. But the other side of the energy-balance equation, dealing with exercise and physical activity, is just as important. People who don’t get enough physical activity are at higher risk of not only obesity, but also diabetes, heart disease, osteoporosis and depression. With school out for the summer, I’m really aware of kids’ physical activity. My boys are very active (rambunctious, some would say) and love to be outdoors, but even they can get easily drawn into spending more time than they should watching TV or playing computer games. A report from the Institute of Medicine (IOM) has highlighted the important role of schools in promoting physical activity among school-aged kids. Since children spend so much time at school, they need to be able to have time for activity while there. The report recommended that children get at least one hour of vigorous or moderate activity each day, with at least half of that time during the scheduled school day, including physical education, recess and other activities. Legislators in New Jersey have introduced a bill that would require schools to have 20 minutes of recess each day. So what can dairy companies do to support more physical activity for kids and everyone? Your company could join the Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation (HWCF), which offers grants to build playgrounds and runs the Together Counts campaign. IDFA is an associate member of HWCF. And your company could look for ways to support ... Read More
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