Award for sustainable meat sourcing

The Soil Association has developed a new award scheme to recognise caterers that source sustainable food, including high-welfare meat.

The Food for Life Catering Mark is an accreditation scheme that is open to caterers in the public and private sectors. The Mark has three tiers: bronze, silver and gold, with the gold standard requiring the caterer's menu to be 75% freshly prepared, 50% local and 30% organic.

The scheme grew out of the Soil Association's work with school dinners, and was originally intended for third-party suppliers of food to schools, but has since been expanded to include caterers from nurseries, hospitals and sports stadia.

Food for Life Caterers must serve meat that is farm-assured to meet UK animal welfare standards. In practice, this means that any chicken and pork served will come from the UK, as UK welfare standards are not met anywhere else in Europe. Organic meat offers the highest standard of welfare and is required by the Gold level of the Food for Life Catering Mark.

Joanna Lewis, policy manager at the Soil Association, said that in the wake of Jamie Oliver's call to consume higher-welfare British pork, the scheme will help caterers reassure consumers that they serve meat that meets British welfare standards. "The Food for Life Catering Mark has been launched in response to public concern about the implications of 'cheap food' for health, animal welfare and the environment," she said.

"It gives caterers across the public and private sectors a way of proving their commitment to the freshly prepared, ethically sourced food that customers are asking for."

The Price of Wales presented the first Food for Life Catering Mark awards to caterers at Nottingham City Hospital on 20 February.