Update coming in the next few days

Food Fortification

Food fortification is defined as the practice of adding vitamins and minerals to commonly consumed foods during processing to increase their nutritional value.

The voluntary addition of vitamins and minerals to foods is regulated by means of EU Regulation 1925/2006, which aims to ensure that fortified foods are safe, and to allow for the proper functioning of the internal market. The legislation lists the vitamins and/or minerals that can be added to foods.

This Regulation is implemented in Irish Law by means of European Union (Addition of Vitamins and Minerals and of Certain Other Substances to Foods) Regulations 2017 (Statutory Instrument No. 376 of 2017)

In relation to the mandatory addition of nutrients to foods, Ireland has had a long debate about the issue of folic acid.

Following the publication of healthy eating guidelines for the general population in 2016, it was recognised that dietary intake of folate remains sub optimal In Ireland. A multidisciplinary Committee was established by the Department of Health to review the evidence in support of folic acid supplementation to prevent neural tube defects (NTD). Recommendations published in the 2019 report “Folic Acid Supplementation” by the Department of Health, outline several mechanisms to improve folic acid intake for women of child-bearing age and thereby reduce the risk of neural tube defects. One key recommendation given at the time was to consider the requirements for food fortification with folate.

Ireland does not have any national flour mills and relies on the UK for up to eighty per cent of its flour supply. The UK Government decided to proceed with the mandatory fortification of non-wholemeal wheat flour and legislate on this basis in 2021, but the legislation is still not on the Statute Book.

If Ireland was to decide on mandatory fortification of flour with folic acid, it will need to complete a Regulatory Impact Assessment, a scientific risk assessment and then notify the European Commission via the Technical Regulation Information System (TRIS) system of Ireland’s intention to introduce fortification of flour with folic acid. This is a very long process and as much of Ireland’s flour comes from the UK, the Irish Government has decided to take time before making a decision on this matter. In the meantime, it has recommended that all women considering pregnancy take a 400-microgram (mcg) supplement of folic acid per day when planning a pregnancy and for the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.

Vegan/Vegetarian Terms

There are no specific Irish or EU laws in place which cover the definition of and vegan food. EU Regulation 1169/2011 on food information for consumers requires

the European Commission to issue an implementing act on voluntary food information “related to the suitability of a food for vegetarians or vegans” (article 36 (3)(b)). A Citizens Initiative (Nov 2018) called for the EU to draft proposals to define the terms “Vegetarian” & “Vegan” to make such labelling mandatory under the EU’s Food Labelling rules. The European Commission has still failed to draft any legislative labelling proposals on the suitability of food for vegetarians or vegans.

In that case, the one qualification would be that if you label food as being suitable for vegans or vegetarians under Article 7 of EU Regulation 169/2011 on the provision of food information to consumers, the labelling must not be ‘misleading’.

The Advertising Standards Authority for Ireland (ASA) is the independent self-regulatory body set up and financed by the advertising industry. The objective is to ensure that all commercial marketing communications are ‘legal, decent, honest and truthful’. The ASA has established a self-regulatory Code of Standards for Advertising, Promotional and Direct Marketing (2016) as a means of fulfilling this objective [section 8 of the Code relates to food and non-alcoholic beverages].

The ASA has a complaints procedure whereby companies and the public can be made against specific advertisements being misleading.

An interesting November 2023 ruling related to a poster advertising campaign for Oatly Barista Oat Milk which stated: “It’s like milk but made for humans”. The ASA considered that the use of the phrase “but made for humans” in advertising for a non-dairy milk alternative was misleading to consumers and was in breach of the ASA Code.

Country of Origin

There is no specific country of origin food labelling rules in Ireland, rather it follows provisions in EU Law. The main EU food labelling rules contained in EU Regulation 1169/2011 on food information for consumers place an obligation on food business operators to indicate the country of origin or of the place of provenance of a food whenever its absence is likely to mislead consumers as to the true country of origin or place of provenance of that product.

The EU has in addition established mandatory origin information provisions for certain products under product specific rules, e.g. beef and beef products, fresh, chilled and frozen meat of pigs, sheep, goats and poultry, fish, fresh fruit and vegetables, honey and olive oil.

Article 26(3), EU Regulation 1169/2011 sets down the requirements for providing the country of origin of place of provenance of a food where this is given and where it is not the same as the origin of its primary ingredient(s).

A primary ingredient is defined as meaning ‘_an ingredient or ingredients of a food that represent more than 50% of that food or which are usually associated with the name of the food by the consumer and for which in most cases a quantitative indication (QUID %) is required’._

The manner in which this information is indicated on a food label is set out in Commission Implementing Regulation 2018/775.

In general, consumers in Ireland search for country of origin on food products by means of the Irish Government’s Bord Bia Quality Assurance schemes. These quality assurance schemes cover the following product categories: bacon, beef, chicken, duck, eggs, fruit, lamb, pork, turkey and vegetables. The schemes are voluntary however they currently cover 42,000 farmers and over 150 food processers. Being a member of the scheme, food processors are able to label their products with a country of origin label which includes the Irish flag as below:


The Department of Health issues the licences for the cultivation of hemp in Ireland. The Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA) processes the applications received for such licences, on behalf of the Department of Health. The applications are assessed against what is legally permitted under the current Misuse of Drugs Laws.

When hemp-derived products are placed on the market as ‘food’ in line with the General Food Law (EU Regulation 178/2002), numerous other regulations pertaining to the EU food legislation may apply, and are enforced by the Food Safety Authority of Ireland. The flowers/buds of the Cannabis plant fall outside the definition of food as they are considered narcotic drugs in line with the UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs 1961. Therefore the marketing of cannabis flowers or buds on their own as food in the EU is not permitted. While hemp seeds do not naturally produce or contain cannabinoids including cannabidiol (CBD), there may be varying levels of cannabinoids found in fibres and stalks of the hemp plant.

Ireland does not consider CBD derived from legally-cultivated hemp by cold pressing as a novel food. This means cold-pressed CBD from legally-cultivated hemp can be sold as food in Ireland without requiring a novel food authorisation, subject to compliance with all other applicable food legislation. However, where cannabis-derived CBD products have been refined by purification, concentration, etc., they are considered novel foods that must be authorised in accordance with EU Regulation 2015/2283 prior to marketing. The rationale for this position is not related to the legal use of authorised extraction solvents, but is due to the potential safety threats posed by the higher concentration of desirable components and possible co-purified undesirable components, where they do not have a significant history of consumption prior to 1997. This general position has been agreed by all EU Member States as expressed in the entry for “Cannabinoids” in the EU Novel Food Catalogue

The addition of synthetic or concentrated forms of plant-derived CBD to a hemp seed-derived food in order to boost the levels of CBD also makes that final food a novel food which must be authorised in accordance with EU Regulation 2015/2283 before it can be placed on the EU market.

A number of products with names such as hemp oil, hemp seed oil, CBD oil or CBD hemp oil are available on the Irish market. These products come from the hemp plant (Cannabis sativa). They are usually, but not always, marketed as food supplements in liquid or capsule form. The Food Safety Authority of Ireland makes regular surveys of the marketplace and recalls products due to the presence of unsafe levels of Tetrahydfrocannabinol (THC) in excess of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) acute reference dose of 0.001 mg/kg boy weight (1 µg/kg body weight).

Finally, the appearance of cannabis-infused edibles, such as jelly sweets, chocolates, cookies, and confectionery, is a relatively new trend in Ireland. Any such product infused with Tetrahydfrocannabinol (THC) must not contain levels in excess of the EFSA acute reference dose and the FSAI is monitoring their sale in the marketplace.


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.