ECJ judgement: Indication of vitamins in the list of ingredients

The Court of Justice of the European Union (ECJ) ruled that the list of ingredients of a food does not have to contain the specific name of the vitamin compound. The customary name such as "vitamin D" or "vitamin A" is therefore sufficient.

The subject of the judgement is a margarine which was criticised by Hungarian authorities due to the designation of the vitamins as "vitamins (A, D)" in the list of ingredients. The authorities considered that the indication was not sufficient and that the specific vitamin compounds should be indicated.

The ECJ is of the opinion that an ingredient must be designated by its legally prescribed name. Only if no designation is stipulated, the customary designation may be chosen. Regulation (EC) No 1925/2006 on the addition of vitamins and minerals to foods does not prescribe a legal name for vitamins. According to Regulation (EU) No 1169/2011, vitamins must be designated in the nutrition declaration with the customary names, e.g. "vitamin A" or "vitamin D". The ECJ further states that it would not be accurate, transparent and easy for consumers to understand if the nutrition declaration contained the customary vitamin names and the list of ingredients listed the specific vitamin formulation instead. Moreover, most of these specific vitamin compounds would be relatively difficult to understand and little known to the general public.

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