What is farm assurance?

Farm assured meat is produced on farms that are inspected on an annual basis by accredited inspectors. This means that UK minimum standards on animal welfare are being met. UK welfare standards prevent certain abuses of farm animals still legal elsewhere, including sow stalls and higher stocking densities for indoor housed poultry.

We require that all meat at Bronze, Silver and Gold is from farms which satisfy UK welfare standards.

What is organic?

Animals farmed to organic standards enjoy the highest welfare standards of all certification or welfare assurance schemes. Organic animals are genuinely free range, with no routine use of antibiotics. Farms certified organic by the Soil Association exceed EU organic standards for animal welfare – providing the best standards of welfare overall across all species.

On organic farms artificial chemical fertilisers are prohibited and pesticides are severely restricted.

At Silver and Gold we award points for spend on organic products.

Read Compassion in World Farming’s Standards Analysis Report

Why is locally sourced food better?

Local has travelled less far than is common in the conventional global food system. Less food miles helps to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases from fossil fuel-based transport.

Local food is more likely to be seasonal. Buying from local producers also helps to support your local economy, and can mean cutting out the middleman and saving money.

However, it is important to note that ‘local food’ does not necessarily rule out environmentally damaging practices, pesticide use, or factory farming,

At Silver and Gold we award points for spend on produce sourced from the UK, and produce sourced locally. (From your region or adjacent county)

What is MSC fish?

By a fairly confusing coincidence, there are two organisations who work to promote sustainable fishing and who have very similar names – don’t get them confused!

The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) has developed standards for sustainable fishing and seafood traceability. Fish which is certified by the MSC is from fisheries which can demonstrate sustainable practices.

At Silver and Gold we award points for spend on MSC certified fish.

What is MCS fish?

The Marine Conservation Society (MCS) is a UK charity which works for the protection of seas and champions sustainable fishing. MCS have created a ‘fish to avoid list’ which identifies fish from unsustainable, overfished, highly vulnerable or poorly-managed fisheries.

At Bronze, and through to Gold, we require that no fish is served from the Marine Conservation Society’s ‘fish to avoid’ list.

At Silver and Gold we award points for spend on fish from the MCS ‘fish to eat’ list.

What is Freedom Food accreditation?

Freedom Food is the RSPCA’s welfare assurance scheme. Freedom Food ensures that animals enjoy five freedoms which allow them to express normal behaviour. The standards cover the whole of an animal's life, and include criteria to allow for a stimulating environment and increased space.

At Silver and Gold we award points for spend on Freedom Food products.

What is the application process for the Catering Mark?

Visit our ‘Apply now’ page which explains the application process.

How much does it cost to apply?

Fees are set according to the sector you are catering for, and the number of meals you are serving. Your annual fee covers:

  • Consultation visit from your regional Catering Mark Coordinator
  • Dedicated support from your Certification Officer
  • Your inspection
  • Your Catering Mark certificate and plaque
  • Marketing materials and support

Download the fee sheet for my sector.

Can I apply for just one site?

You can apply for the Catering Mark for one site, or across your whole catering operation or restaurant chain. If you’re not sure which of your sites to apply for, get in touch with your regional Catering Mark Coordinator who can talk you through your options.

What is the management plan?

Your management plan is used to help us assess how you are meeting or planning to meet the Catering Mark Standards. It is a way for you to provide us with details of your purchasing and the systems you have in place to make sure each Standard is being met on an ongoing basis.

You will recieve your management when you apply. You must complete the plan before your inspection takes place.

What is the points calculator?

The Silver and Gold Standards are assessed on a points system. Food providers are rewarded for every percentage point of their ingredient spend on ethical and environmentally friendly food, locally sourced ingredients and steps to offer healthier menus.

The points calculator helps you to calculate your ingredient spend on ethical, local and environmentally friendly ingredients.

Try the points calculator

What will happen at my inspection?

A Soil Association inspector will arrive at a pre-arranged date to carry out your inspection. During this, the inspector will talk to you about how you make sure you are meeting the Standards, and look through your evidence and management plan. (Required evidence is specified in the Catering Mark Handbook).

They are likely to open a few cupboards and look inside your fridges to ensure there are no non compliant products. The inspection is not a pass or fail test. If you are not quite meeting the Standards the inspector will feed back information and recommendations on where you are falling short, and your regional Catering Mark Coordinator will support you to correct this.

How long will it take me to get my Catering Mark?

You will receive your Catering Mark after inspection - as soon as any outstanding information or evidence has been received.

How can I make the most of my award?

We have a dedicated marketing team to help you communicate your achievement. We have also created a number of marketing resources for Catering Mark holders – the url and login for this page is communicated to all Catering Mark holders upon achieving their award.

I’ve forgotten the login

Please contact Emma if you would like to send an article or comment for inclusion in our e-newsletter.

How do I upgrade my Catering Mark?

To upgrade your Catering Mark, contact your Certification Officer. We may be able to move the date of any upcoming inspections to allow you time to make necessary changes.

How do I add new sites to my Catering Mark?

To add new sites to your Catering Mark you will need to send the following information to your Certification Officer:

  • A list of the sites you would like to add, and their locations
  • The date when you will be serving Catering Mark menus to these sites
  • Any differences in the new menus 

If you're not sure who your Certification Officer is, please call 0117 914 2411 or email proc.cert@soilassociation.org

How can I keep up to date with Standards changes?

The best way to keep up to date with Standards changes is to make sure you’re signed up to our Catering Mark e-news. This goes out every six weeks and contains all the information you will need to know about your Catering Mark.

Email erose@soilassociation.org to sign up.

We aim to give our Catering Mark holders plenty of time to implement any Standards changes.


 Where are we now?

  • Over 8,000 schools

  • 300 nurseries

  • Working with 30+ universities

  • 75% of London Boroughs

  • 30 hospitals

  • 30% of English Primary schools


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