Background:The Heartbeat Award Scheme (HBA) is a national initiative whereby caterers receive an award for meeting identified minimum criteria related to healthy menu choices, food hygiene and eating environment. The eligibility of four staff catering facilities in an NHS Trust was assessed by audit.Methods:An audit tool was developed which enabled comparison between food displayed and itemized on the menu board and HBA criteria for each food category. It also contained questions about food preparation and ingredients. The catering facilities were audited on five different weekdays during a 2-week period (seven for one facility). Observations were recorded about visibility, appearance and plate wastage.Results:Usually it was clear whether food served achieved HBA criteria, but development of quantified criteria were necessary for reliable assessment of main dishes, sandwiches and desserts. A summary of the key findings are presented, including achievement of HBA criteria, together with the resulting recommendations, observations and identification of issues arising from the audit.Conclusion:The benefits of this approach outweigh any drawbacks and include the ability to facilitate assessment for the HBA in the absence of written menus, obtain baseline information, enable repeated audit and provide details to support recommendations made to caterers. The audit tool has now been included as part of the contract specification for the local purchasing commission.