In 2006 the FSA published its original voluntary salt reduction targets, which "became mandatory own-label policy for all of the major supermarket groups", according to Freiberger md Richard Harrow.
Under pressure to meet demand from supermarket customers, the first area the firm identified for reformulation was its pizza base. This was tricky because the salt helps the yeast and oils to bind and create the structure.
Despite this, Freiberger refused to go down the salt replacement road. "That would be counter-intuitive," said Harrow. "Clean-label products are important to us. We feel that putting a salt replacer in our recipes would make our ingredients label look like a list of chemicals and we don't want that. We did a lot of trial work to ensure that we could maintain the correct structure and quality. We also did it in stages and not all in one go."
The firm makes nearly all of its tomato sauces. To reduce their salt content and maintain flavour, Freiberger increased the percentage of tomato pulp and added herbs and spices, such as oregano and black pepper.
Now the firm is ahead of the 2010 game, it has a new mountain to climb: meeting the FSA's targets for 2012. Harrow has been actively engaged with the FSA on this point.
"We highlighted concerns that we had exhausted the removal of added salt in our process and that we were now reliant on the suppliers of raw materials (ham, cheese, etc) to reduce the salt in their products. We are also extremely concerned whether, in some instances, this is technically possible from a quality and food safety perspective.
"We must also remember that we sell food, not medicine, and food is meant to be fun especially pizza."