CINCINNATI, OHIO – Pierre Foods Inc. is introducing a new line of more nutritious menu options its executives feel will be making an impact in school cafeterias throughout the country this coming school year. Named Smart Picks, the new line will officially be unveiled at the School Nutrition Association's Annual National Conference in July. Smart Picks will be ready to serve in school cafeterias when school begins in August.

Products in this new line will include a variety of items that have one or more of the following features: reduced sodium, a good source of protein, zero grams of trans fat, no hydrogenated oils, made with whole grains, a good source of fiber and reduced fat.

The Smart Picks line will offer schools more than 60 menu choices including all-beef hamburger patties, which have 37% less sodium than current patties; grilled chicken patties, which contain less than 15% of the recommended daily allowance of sodium; and macaroni and cheese, which is made with whole-grain pasta and is an excellent source of protein. The Smart Picks line will use quality U.S.D.A.-inspected, fully-cooked meats and hearth-baked breads, all of which are quickly frozen to ensure the safety and flavor of each menu item.

"For more than 30 years, Pierre Foods has been creating school menu options that contribute to a healthy lifestyle and Smart Picks is the latest step in that progression," said Bill Toler, chief executive officer at Pierre Foods. "In 1996, we developed our popular grilled teriyaki chicken dippers as an alternative to fried chicken nuggets. Today, Pierre continues to work closely with school foodservice directors, monitoring school menu needs to ensure that its meal offerings are nutritious, while maintaining high quality, taste and value."

Pierre Foods spent more than a year developing Smart Picks' proprietary recipes. Approximately 2,000 students recently taste-tested products from Pierre's Smart Picks line and liked these items as well as or better than similar Pierre school menu items, according to the company.