Veggie food

The terms “vegetarian” or “vegan” are not specifically regulated in Italy. As a result, many producers and/or consumer organisations have prepared internal guidelines, even proposing them to the European Commission as possible standards for a future Regulation or Directive. It is understood that the terms “vegetarian” and “vegetarianism” (excluding all variants, such as lacto-ovo-vegetarianism, lacto-vegetarianism) generally refer to variants of a plant-based diet. Indeed, according to the most authoritative Italian dictionary, “vegetarian” is defined as “human nutrition limited to plant foods (or, in less radical forms, extended to some animal products such as eggs, milk and its derivatives)”. The term “vegan”, on the other hand, is mostly associated with the absence of substances of animal origin (eggs, milk, etc.). Without precise legal references to these terms, reference should be made to the regulation of voluntary information under the general principles of food labelling and advertising (particularly Article 7 and Article 36 of Regulation (EU) No. 1169/201), as well as the general principles of consumer legislation.

Fortification of food

The voluntary addition of vitamins and minerals to foodstuffs is regulated by Regulation (EC) No. 1925/2006, which contains a list of permitted vitamins and minerals together with a list of their sources. For substances other than vitamins and minerals, Regulation (EC) 1925/2006 introduces provisions for monitoring, and possibly for the introduction of restrictions. In Italy, the placing on the market of foods with added vitamins and minerals in accordance with Regulation (EC) 1925/2006 is subject to the electronic notification procedure to the Ministry of Health pursuant to Article 17 of Legislative Decree No. 27 of 2 February 2021. The Ministry of Health does not have a register of fortified foodstuffs.

Country of origin requirements

The attribution of a specific origin to a product, whether food or non-food, and its communication to the public assume relevance in terms of protecting the consumer to whom that message is addressed. The Italian legal system requires thisspecific information, along with other determining factors in the choice of purchase, to be conveyed in an accurate and non-deceptive manner. This is for the benefit of the purchaser of the good (pursuant to the Consumer Code and the regulations on unfair commercial practices) and to safeguard the fair relationship between professionals (pursuant to the regulations on unfair competition). There are many examples of this matter in the case-law of the Italian Competition Authority (AGCM). Furthermore, according to the extensive jurisprudence of the Italian Advertising Standards Authority (IAP), the prohibition of deception in advertising, as well as more generally in presentation, does not only concern the “characteristics and effects” of the advertised product, but also covers “any circumstance to which consumers attribute importance and which may therefore influence their choices”. This includes the origin of the company and the products or services from a certain country.


At national level, the subject of the legislation on cannabis draws its sources from two primary sources: Italian Presidential Decree No. 309/1990 (also known as Single Text on Narcotics) and Italian Law No. 242/2016. With regard to the cannabinoid THC, the aforementioned 2016 Law requested the Ministry of Health to establish the maximum permissible limit of THC in food. The Ministry subsequently issued a Decree on 4 November 2019, which qualified hemp seeds (including crushed, ground, and ground seeds) and their derivatives (oil, flour and supplements) as food, setting specific limits. On the other hand, a Decree issued on 7 August 2023 by the Ministry of Health included ingestible products based on CBD, the cannabidiol obtained from cannabis extracts, in the Single Text on Narcotics, thereby preventing their sale. This last Decree has been provisionally suspended by the Administrative Court of Lazio, and further developments on the issue are expected


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.