A descriptive study of milk handling practices in elementary school nutrition programs




Connors, Priscilla

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The purpose of this study was to determine milk receiving, storage and serving practices in public elementary schools in the United States and to compare these practices to recommendations for quality and safety. The study consisted of two parts.

A national survey of 258 elementary school foodservice managers who were members of the American School Food Service Association revealed that 86.7% had worked in their position for over 10 years and 86.4% had completed some sanitation training. Respondents reported frequent milk deliveries, but 81.6% relied on truck drivers to rotate milk thereby missing an opportunity for inspection. Most respondents offered two or more milk varieties and the most popular was 1% low fat chocolate milk. A chest refrigerator was the most common unit for storage, and 57.2% of respondents selected it as ideal. In 86.2% of schools, students retrieved milk directly from the milk refrigerator. The majority (98.3%) of respondents recommended a milk storage temperature in the range of 32\sp∘F to 41\sp∘F. While 97.0% of respondents reported milk temperatures before lunch between 32\sp∘F to 41\sp∘F, only 66.3% did so after lunch.

A Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) inspection was conducted in 32 north central Texas public elementary schools focusing on milk receiving, storage and service procedures including the presence of accurate thermometers, cross-contamination potential and exposure of milk to temperatures above 41\sp∘F. There was a lack of delivery inspection with only 13.3% of cafeterias observing and recording milk arrival temperatures. Sampled milk temperatures were generally within the recommended range. A majority (82.8%) of cafeterias had working thermometers, but only 13.8% routinely observed and recorded temperatures. A model HACCP system for milk served in individual serving portions was developed with sections for receiving, storage and service of milk. The design was concise with arrows indicating decision points to promote use by all staff. School food service staff might benefit from additional training on the application of HACCP to milk, a chilled, pasteurized food.