Dr. Schar USA Inc., a subsidiary of Dr. Schär AG/SPA, a Europe-based provider of gluten-free foods, has announced the U.S. launch of the Bontà d' Italia Partner Program, a foodservice offering that will extend the company's gluten-free pizza to restaurants nationwide.

In partnership with Sysco, a distributor of restaurant food products, Dr. Schar's gluten-free, Italian-style pizza will first be made available to participating restaurants in Chicago. North Side Chicago restaurant chain D'Agostino's Pizza and Pub is the first participating account to offer Dr. Schar gluten-free pizza.

"We are excited about the opportunity to launch this program in our restaurants. We see this as a huge market that has not been tapped and we want to be able to do it right in order to truly take care of these customers. The training we received from Dr. Schar is what sets this apart from any other program we looked at," said General Manager Greg Sellers of D'Agostino's Pizza and Pub.

Dr. Schar offers programs that aim to increase the awareness and proper treatment of celiac disease and gluten-sensitivity. Currently an estimated 12 million Americans are following a gluten-free diet due to celiac disease, gluten-intolerance and gluten-sensitivity; and this number is expected to grow given low levels of awareness and diagnosis.

Dr. Schar offers a pre-baked pizza base made from raw materials that have been carefully sourced and undergoes a rigorous packing and sealing process to mitigate gluten cross-contamination. Sysco will sell and distribute the pre-baked pizza bases across the country in support of the program.

Restaurant staff will be trained to achieve compliance with gluten-free food preparation, safety of product, and serving of the gluten-free pizza through a local Dr. Schar trainer. Additionally, Dr. Schar offers educational materials such as "how-to" videos, kitchen posters and continued on-site staff training programs.

Dr. Schar also offers comprehensive marketing support that includes online and offline touchpoints such as point-of-sale, custom menu development, database marketing to consumers living within proximity of participating restaurants, and co-marketing efforts with local celiac organizations.

"We are excited to offer the Bontà d' Italia Gluten-Free Pizza Program to the foodservice industry in the United States. Our partnership with Sysco will extend our delicious gluten-free foods to consumers with dietary restrictions. The opportunity to expand restaurant offerings will undoubtedly help improve and support the gluten-free consumer," said Donna George, president and COO of Dr. Schar, USA.

First launched by the parent company, Dr. Schär AG/SPA, in Italy, the Bontà d' Italia Gluten-Free Pizza Program has partnered with more than 400 pizzerias throughout Italy.

Read more about food safety.

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