Dallas ISD launches shelf stable milk with Tetra Pak and Dairy Max

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Dallas ISD, Tetra Pak and Dairy MAX are launching shelf stable dairy milk in nine schools throughout the district. Shelf stable milk comes packaged in environmentally sound aseptic carton packaging that does not require refrigeration until opened, is made primarily of renewable materials and is recyclable.

Nutrition is critical to a successful learning environment as educators report school meals combat lack of energy, poor academic performance, and inability to concentrate. Milk can benefit a student’s overall wellbeing as it is packed with 13 essential nutrients, including protein, which helps to combat hunger in the classroom. Every year Dallas ISD schools supply students with over 1.5 million gallons of milk. With this in mind, schools are looking to provide milk in the most responsible way.

Shelf stable milk is the same milk that comes in traditional chilled packaging. To allow for a shelf life of more than six months with no refrigeration needed before opening, the milk undergoes Ultra High Temperature (UHT) processing and is then filled in Tetra Pak® aseptic cartons. UHT processing combined with an aseptic carton retains the nutritional values of dairy milk without the use of additives or preservatives.

“Tetra Pak studies from other U.S. school districts show that 70% of students will accept the switch to shelf stable cartons,” said Michael Rosenberger, Executive Director of Food & Child Nutrition Services at Dallas ISD. “We are excited to launch this pilot that will allow the same healthy milk students are used to in packaging that will reduce waste.”

Dallas ISD Food and Nutrition Services will partner with Dairy MAX, a local dairy council representing 900 dairy farm families across eight states, to study student’s previous dairy milk consumption and waste vs the same statistics after shelf stable milk is introduced. This study will allow Dallas ISD and Dairy MAX to track the effectiveness of the pilot.

The benefits of shelf stable milk within the school setting are multifaceted.

  • Because the milk has a long shelf life and does not need to be refrigerated prior to opening, there is less food waste.
  • The nutritional value of shelf stable milk, including protein and calcium, is the same as traditional school milk.
  • Shelf stable milk is safe without refrigeration so students can take unopened cartons with them to consume later.
  • Shelf stable milk can be refrigerated prior to use, to provide the same consumption experience as traditional chilled milk.
  • While some people report a slight difference in taste, most are unable to tell the difference between shelf stable and traditional school milk.
  • Carton packaging is environmentally sound because it reduces food waste, is made primarily from renewable materials and is recyclable.

Dairy matters, and so does the daily work of local dairy farmers. In addition to tasting great, the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for America (DGA) recommend three servings of dairy a day for a healthy diet.

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