Milk is nutritious. It contains calcium, as well as protein, vitamins and other minerals essential for growth, bone density and overall good health. Children aged 4 to 8 years require three 8-oz. servings of milk (or foods from the milk group) daily, while children aged 9 to 18 years need four 8-oz. servings daily for adequate levels of calcium and nutrients. Approximately 75% of dietary calcium comes from milk and other dairy products. Unfortunately, studies show that children and teens don't get enough calcium.
- 7 out of 10 girls and 6 out of 10 boys, ages 6-11, fail to consume recommended levels of calcium
- On average, teenage boys consume only two servings a day from the milk group, while teenage girls consume a little more than one serving per day
- Overall, Americans consume only an average of 1.5 servings from the milk group each day
Some children may not drink milk if it tastes too warm or has off flavors. Of the children that don't consume milk on a regular basis, 55% stated they would drink milk if it was served at a colder temperature.
Milk is an essential component of any school lunch program. By applying a simple but effective quality control system, called Hazard Analysis of Critical Control Points (HACCP), the result will be safer, colder and fresher-tasting milk making it more attractive to younger individuals.
HACCP is a science-based food system whereby potential hazards are identified, critical limits are established and subsequent actions are taken to prevent or correct these hazards. (For further information on HACCP, see Quick Tips #226: HACCP: Understanding Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point).
Within HACCP, a critical control point (CCP) is defined as a point, procedure or step at which a food safety hazard could either be eliminated, prevented or reduced. In addition, each CCP has at least one, and possibly several, control measures to prevent, eliminate or reduce the potential hazard. There are three critical control points for a school milk proper care and handling.
Receiving is critical because the quality of the school milk at this stage affects the quality throughout the other two stages. Check the delivery trucks appearance to ensure it is clean and refrigerated. Inspect the crates and observe if the cartons are clean, sealed and undamaged. Check the "sell by date" to confirm that the quantity of school milk ordered will be used by that date. After these observations, ensure that the temperature of a sample carton is 33 to 41°F. Finally, check the smell and taste of the milk for any off odors or flavors. If for any reason you are concerned about the quality of the milk, reject it.
For storage, make sure the refrigerator or cooler is chilled to the proper temperature (33 to 41°F) prior to delivery. Transfer the school milk immediately to cold storage after delivery, and rotate stock on a regular basis. Store the school milk separately from other food products because it readily absorbs odors; garlic and onions even lettuce and celery can impart off flavors. Keep the cooler clean and odor free, and take care of spills immediately. Additionally, establish regular cleaning and preventative maintenance schedules.
The importance of keeping school milk cold during the serving period was demonstrated in a study where1/3 of schools polled reported milk temperatures higher than 41°F at the end of the serving period. (The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends that state health departments enforce a milk serving temperature of 33 to 41°F).
When serving school milk, check and record the temperature of the milk at the beginning, during and end of the meal periods. To keep milk as cold as possible, display it in insulated containers or barrels or in a cooler. You may even consider using curtains to better control the temperature of the cooler.
A simple but effective component in controlling school milk temperature is to let the students select their own milk cartons; less handling keeps the milk colder. In addition, the FDA food code states that any milk taken by students that has not been consumed, even unopened containers, cannot be redistributed or used in food production; this milk should be discarded. Milk on the serving line that is kept cold is safe to offer at another meal.
Devoting just a few minutes of time to the quality and temperature of the milk served in schools could result in lasting improvements to the product that is served to students. Employing HACCP, monitoring the critical control points and applying corrective actions when needed will result in safer, colder and fresher-tasting milk. In addition, establish and maintain thorough and accurate procedures and verification records. Keep these records on-site and make them easily accessible.
Check your local health code ordinance; some temperatures may vary.