Veggie food

There are neither Swedish nor EU regulations, legal definitions or rules that explicitly concern vegetarian or vegan food. However, vegetarian and vegan foods are subject to the same rules and regulations that apply to all foods.

Hence, Article 7.1 of Regulation (EU) No 1169/2011 is applicable stating that food information must not mislead the consumer. For example, the information on the packaging and labelling of a vegetarian or vegan product must be accurate, clear and easy for the consumer to understand and must not mislead the consumer as to the characteristics of the food, such as its nature, identity, properties, composition, quantity, durability, country of origin or place of provenance, method of manufacture or production.

That a vegan diet is completely free of animal ingredients, including animal additives, can be considered established among Swedish consumers. Therefore, when the term ‘vegan’ or similar is used to describe a food product, no further explanation is deemed required. However, the fact that a product is vegan does not automatically mean that it is free from accidental contamination with or from allergens such as milk, but in such case, the accidental contamination would not be considered an ingredient.

In Sweden, the term ‘vegetarian’ can have different meanings for different individuals and in relation to different foods. Some consumers associate the term with a diet that is completely free of animal ingredients, while others believe that it is free of meat, poultry, and fish, but may contain, for example, eggs and milk. The Swedish National Food Agency differentiates between two categories of vegetarian diet on its website: lacto-vegetarian and lacto-ovo-vegetarian. The former is defined as a diet that includes vegetables and dairy products, while the latter is a diet that includes vegetables, dairy products, and eggs. Therefore, when the term ‘vegetarian’ is used to describe a food, it may be necessary to add further information to give the consumer a sufficiently clear idea of the nature of the food. The consumer must be able to distinguish it from other goods in relation to which it might be confused (see Article 2.2 p and 17 of Regulation (EU) No. 1169/2011).

The labels ‘vegan’ and ‘vegetarian’ are voluntary labels for companies to use. However, as mentioned above, it is important to remember that none of these labels are allowed to be misleading. Whether the labels are misleading is a matter of judgement and may vary from case to case. It is thus recommended to carefully review the marketing and packaging of products to ensure that they are not considered misleading to the average consumer.

Fortification of foods

The EU regulation on fortification is supplemented by Swedish national legislation. Sweden has specific rules on fortification because the Swedish National Food Agency has deemed it necessary to improve the nutritional intake of the Swedish population.

Most foods may in Sweden be fortified provided that, among other things, Regulation (EC) No 1925/2006 on the addition of vitamins and minerals and certain other substances in foods is complied with. The regulation describes exceptions and how fortification should be carried out.

In addition, according to the Swedish Food Agency’s regulation (LIVSFS 2018:5) on the fortification of certain foods, there are certain foods that must be fortified with vitamins A and D in order to be sold in Sweden. For example, milk, fermented milk products such as skimmed milk, the corresponding vegetable and lactose-free alternatives, margarine and certain cooking fat mixtures manufactured and sold in Sweden must be fortified. However, other fermented milk products, such as quark and cheese, as well as flavoured products or products with added sugars or sweeteners used in beverages are on the other hand not covered by the fortification requirements.

The requirements only apply to foods intended for use by end consumers or large households. This means, for example, that margarine sold to another company for use only as an ingredient in a bakery product is not subject to the fortification rules.

Notably, organic milk, fermented milk products, corresponding organic vegetable or lactose-free alternatives, margarines and edible fat mixtures that have been produced or placed on the market in another EU or EEA country must also be fortified in order to be sold in Sweden.

Country of origin requirements (COOL)

In Sweden, certain foods are required to be labelled with the country of origin. However, this is not based on national rules but the legislative requirements are primarily to be found in Regulation (EC) No 1169/2011 on the provision of food information to consumers. The requirement extends to fish, beef, pork, lamb, goat, poultry, honey, fruit and vegetables. For origin labelling of beef, see Regulations (EC) No. 1760/2000 and (EC) No. 1825/2000 For requirements related to labelling with the relevant catch zone for fish see Regulation in Regulation (EU) No. 1379/2013. Moreover, Regulation (EU) No. 1337/2013 provides clarification regarding the specifications for origin labelling in the case of meat derived from pigs, sheep, goats, and poultry.

Even in the absence of a requirement to indicate the country of origin of a particular food product, the origin must be specified if there is a risk that the consumer may be misled by the absence of this information. This applies especially when other information suggests that the food has a different origin than it actually has. Such other information may include the food’s designation, trademark, logo, company name, images and symbols such as flags, pennants or other national or regional symbols, as well as the colouring of the packaging and background when presenting the food (see Article 26.2.a of Regulation (EU) No. 1169/2011). A very specific but unfortunately current and relevant requirement is that it must be clear from a labelling that the product comes from the Golan Heights, the Gaza Strip or the West Bank, with clarification as to whether it comes from an Israeli settlement or Palestinian territory.

According to Article 60(1) of Regulation (EU) No 952/2013, goods wholly obtained in a single country or territory shall be regarded as originating in/from that country or territory. In some cases, the country of origin of a given food may be different from the origin of the “primary ingredient”. Primary ingredient is according to Article 2.2.q of Regulation (EU) No. 1169/2011 defined as “_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 is required_”. Where the country of origin of a food is indicated and it is not the same as the country of origin of the foodstuff’s primary ingredient, the country of origin of the primary ingredient in question shall also be indicated or the country of origin of the primary ingredient shall be indicated as being different from that of the food (see Article 26(3)(a) and (b) of Regulation (EU) No 1169/2011).

Cannabis as an ingredient in foods and food supplements

The sale of Cannabis sativa products in Sweden is regulated by narcotics, pharmaceutical and food legislation. The narcotics and pharmaceutical legislation are national and takes precedence over the otherwise applicable food legislation. This means that if a product is classified as a narcotic or a pharmaceutical in Sweden, it is not classified as food. Seeds and products made from seeds such as flour, hemp protein, hemp seed butter and oil may be used as food. CBD (cannabidiol), cannabinoids other than CBD and all parts and products of Cannabis sativa L. from varieties other than those eligible for support under the EU Common Agricultural Policy and which are cultivated after an application for direct support for such cultivation has been submitted to the competent authority, may not be used as food. The same applies to leaves, flowers, and “buds” which are subject to narcotics legislation and may be considered narcotics in Sweden. Furthermore, CBD oil or products containing CBD oil cannot be sold as food in Sweden. CBD oil is considered a “novel food” by the EU and, as such, must go through an approval process. In some cases, products containing CBD are classified as pharmaceuticals and fall under pharmaceutical legislation. Whether a product is classified as a pharmaceutical is decided by the Swedish Medicines Agency.

The legal situation for imported hemp products and products other than seeds of the plant Cannabis sativa is still unclear, as some products may fall under narcotics legislation. There are limits for tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in hemp seeds and hemp seed products. The limits are set out in Regulation (EU) 2023/915 on foreign substances. Different products may also have different serving sizes or instructions on how much of the food should be eaten, which also affects how much THC a consumer can ingest. For example, if a porridge contains hemp flour, the European Food Safety Authority’s values for body weight for infants, toddlers and children should be applied. In summary, Sweden is among the jurisdictions which apply strict interpretations and limits to cannabis-related products.


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.