Country of origin requirements (COOL)

Several EU regulations identifies cases where the country of origin or place of provenance of food has to be mentioned. Said piece of information is required when:

  • This is specifically required by regulation in respect of a food category (e.g. beef, swine, sheep, goat, poultry meat, fish, honey, fruits and vegetables), or
  • Omitting to mention the country of origin is likely to mislead the consumer, taking into account the overall impression given by the labelling.

Belgium has not adopted any national legislation supplementing the EU rules.

Veggie food

There is currently no European or Belgian consensus or legal definition for vegetarian and vegan products. Such a definition should be adopted by the European Commission, on the basis of Article 36(3)(b) of the FIC Regulation, but it is slow in coming.

However, pending the adoption of a specific legal framework, any reference to the suitability of a food product for vegetarians and/or vegans should be assessed in light of the general principles on voluntary information of the EU Regulation 1169/2011 on the provision of food information to consumers. The industry often refers to existing private standards (for example: V-label developed by the European Vegetarian Union (EVU) or the standard ISO standard 23662:2021).

Fortification of foods

The appearance of fortified foods is similar to that of conventional foods (e.g. yoghurts, juices). They differ from these only in that nutritionally active substances such as vitamins, minerals, fatty acids or other nutrients are added.

Regulation (EC) No 1925/2006 of the European Union on the addition of vitamins and minerals and of certain other substances to foods also applies to the fortification of foods in Belgium. The following foods must not be fortified with vitamins and minerals:

  • unprocessed foodstuffs, including fruit, vegetables, meat, poultry and fish;
  • alcoholic beverages (< 1.2% alcohol), with the exception of protected traditional wine recipes marketed before the adoption of the EU Regulation on fortified foods (20 December 2006) and which have been notified to the Commission

However, due to transitional measures laid down in the regulation, national regulations, such as RoyalDecree of 30 May 2021 on the placing on the market of nutrients and foodstuffs to which nutrients have been added. Tijs Royal Decree sets minimum and maximum levels for the addition of certain micronutrients to food (they are different from those set for food supplements). Inaddition a pre-marketing notification procedure is imposed, for each fortified food marketed in Belgium.

Cannabis as an ingredient in food or supplements

Until December 2023, the marketing of Cannabis Sativa as a foodstuff was prohibited in all circumstances in Belgium, as the plant was considered dangerous. Since an amendment to the royal decree on plant adopted on 12 December 2023, the use of hemp seeds and derived products may be authorised if the foodstuff complies with the provisions of section 2. 6 (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol equivalents) of the Annex to Commission Regulation (EU) 2023/915 of 25 April 2023 on the maximum levels for certain contaminants in foodstuffs (see Royal Decree of 12 December 2023 amending the Royal Decree of 31 August 2021 on the manufacture of and trade in foodstuffs composed of or containing plants or plant preparations.


This is general information rather than legal advice and is current as of 30 May 2024. We recommend you contact a specialised food lawyer for legal advice for your particular circumstances to support commercial decisions which could impact your product or business.