Minnesota-based Schwan’s Food Service, Inc. (SFSI), the largest supplier of pizza to the National School Lunch Program, committed to reducing the sodium in its school pizzas by 10 percent by the fall of 2011. However, dedicated efforts in one of the company’s biggest brands have resulted in sodium reductions exceeding that goal as early as this fall.

Michael Wiser, senior marketing director for Schwan’s Food Service, said at the 64th annual School Nutrition Association’s show that the company has achieved positive results with the reformulation of its Big Daddy’s brand, which represents approximately one-third of its school pizza business.

“We’re pleased to inform our school customers that this fall, 12 months earlier than anticipated, they will be able to offer their students a variety of Big Daddy’s pizzas with a 15 to 25 percent reduction in sodium.” This, Wiser said, is a meaningful start to additional work that is being done by the company in the area of sodium reduction.

The Big Daddy’s line of pizza products was first introduced in 2005. Developed with restaurant trends in mind, Big Daddy’s provides students a fun pizza experience similar to a pizzeria. The brand also offers harvest crust varieties, which combine enriched and whole grain flours to meet the demand for increased whole grains in schools.

Taste tests were held with students throughout the process to confirm that the reduced sodium products performed as well as the original recipes with final results achieved through a reduction of salt as well as the use of sea salt, said Sean Trygestad, pizza category marketing manager.

Since 2007, all subsidiaries of The Schwan Food Company have implemented internal guidelines specific to sodium and fat, anticipating the ongoing evolution of nutrition science and the dietary guidelines.

With this reduction in sodium in the Big Daddy’s products, SFSI is intending to meet the Institute of Medicine’s recent recommendation to reduce sodium throughout the next 10 years in the school meal program.

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