America’s new food icon will reinforce the message that Americans should give half of their plate to fruits and vegetables, and first lady Michelle Obama will appear with Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to add star power to the June 2 unveiling, according to a U.S. Department of Agriculture news release.

The 2010 White House Child Obesity Task Force called for simple, actionable advice to help consumers make healthy food choices, the USDA said in a May 31 news release. To conform to that recommendation, the USDA will unveil what it called an “easy-to-understand visual cue” to replace the MyPyramid icon, in use in some form since 1992.

The USDA’s decision to embrace the plate as its new food icon to communicate the 2010 Dietary Guidelines is perhaps one of the agency’s worst kept secrets ever.

The agency allowed a sneak peak at the “plate” food graphic to nutritionists and industry representatives in May.

Unnamed sources in various press accounts say the icon will resemble a plate that has been divided into four color-coded slices representing fruits, vegetables, grains and protein. Near the plate will be a smaller circle, representing a portion for dairy.

Tracy Fox, president of Food, Nutrition & Policy Consultants LLC, Washington, D.C., did not attend the “sneak peak” of the icon but said she approves of the “plate icon” approach.

“(The plate) is easier to understand,” she said. “The most recent (version) of the pyramid was really confusing.”

Fox said the plate image will help consumers visualize that half of what they eat should be fruits and vegetables. “I think it is much more tangible and concrete information about the diet,” she said.

Fox said it is hard to say if the plate icon will be more effective than the pyramid in changing behaviors. “I think you will see a lot of interest and awareness, but the age old question is will that translate into behavior and practices and that part will remain to be seen,” she said.

She said the image may also help reinforce the importance of fruits and vegetables in food policy and nutrition programs.