Dairy will not be on the plate Thursday when the USDA unveils a new image to replace the iconic food pyramid. 

Instead, dairy will occupy a satellite position to the side of the plate.

According to one dairy industry spokesperson, the new image in no way diminishes the importance of dairy in a healthy diet.

“We think the new graphic really draws attention to dairy,” says Ann Marie Krautheim, registered dietitian and senior vice president of nutrition affairs for the National Dairy Council. “It does not get lost with the other food groups,” she adds. “The location on the graphic really draws the eye, and dairy does stand out as an essential part of a healthy eating plan.”

Krautheim says the graphic also emphasizes the versatility of dairy foods. “Dairy can be a glass of milk, it can be a cup of yogurt, and it also can be cheese,” she says. “It’s very versatile and can be worked into a healthy meal in a variety of ways.”

On Jan. 31, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Department of Health and Human Services, issued a new set of dietary guidelines which reaffirmed earlier guidelines for dairy foods. In fact, for one age group — children aged 4-8 — the recommendation was increased from two servings of low-fat or fat-free milk and milk products to 2.5 servings.

Yet, many Americans are not meeting the current guidelines.     

The USDA won’t officially reveal its new “dinner plate” image until Thursday. But some news outlets, including CNN, have shown what they believe will be the image — a plate divided into four quadrants: fruits, vegetables, grains and protein (meat and beans). Dairy occupies a circle to the upper right of the plate.

Elizabeth Cohen, senior medical correspondent for CNN, referred to it as “a little bit of dairy off to the side.”  For more, click here.