USHFC’s REAL Certification Program


The USHFC developed Responsible Epicurean and Agricultural Leadership (REAL) Certified to be the trusted, nationally recognized mark of excellence for food and foodservice operators committed to holistic nutrition and environmental stewardship.

The goal of REAL Certified is to affect change in the food and foodservice industries by providing market-based incentives to increase the profitability of more healthful and sustainable food and beverage. Voluntary, third party certification programs like LEED, B Corporations, Non-GMO Project, Fair Trade and Rainforest Alliance have proven to be an effective way to leverage the power and efficiency of the marketplace for social impact. And similar to LEED, the REAL mark is quickly emerging as the beacon of healthful and sustainable food.

Modeled after the LEED standard, REAL Certified utilizes a flexible, point-based system that is implemented with the assistance of independent, third party registered dietitians (RDs). The comprehensive review process includes menu analysis, invoice and supply chain verification, interviews, and visual assessments of front and back of house operations (initially through photo/video review and then in-person, if applicable).

Based on the input of a diverse Panel of Experts from industry, academia, and government, as well as veteran chefs and restaurateurs, REAL Certified recognizes food and foodservice operators that:

Benefits and Incentives
The USHFC also works with suppliers and purveyors to endorse food and beverage products that meet the REAL criteria, and to support making those products available to foodservice operators at a discount. This provides a net benefit to all involved: foodservice establishments and operations will be able to access higher-quality products at a discount, and suppliers can secure new business from REAL Certified foodservice operators.

REAL Certified as part of your marketing team
Restaurants, foodservice operators, and suppliers are featured at
REAL Certified marketing and promotional collateral (display plate, decals, chef patches, informational material and more)
Inclusion in press releases and mentions in earned national and local media
Logo recognition at national and local industry events
Visibility in nationwide newsletter
Promotion through USHFC partners including online reservations and review websites such as OpenTable, Zagat, Savored, Yelp, and Trip Advisor