Country of origin requirements (COOL)

For pre-packaged foodstuffs, the country of production must be stated, with a few exceptions. An exception is, for example, if the country of production is clearly derived from the product name (e.g. “Swiss cheese”) or if the manufacturer’s address is indicated (Producer: Alois Müller, Berne, Switzerland). The country of production is the country in which the food was produced in its entirety or in which significant processing steps took place.

For foods that consist of several ingredients, additional information on the origin of the ingredients may be required in certain cases in addition to the indication of the country of production (country of production of the initial product of an ingredient, e.g. the tomatoes in a tomato concentrate).

In principle, the origin of an ingredient must always be stated if:

  • an ingredient is important in terms of quantity; and
  • the presentation of the product suggests that this ingredient has an origin that is not true.

Please note, that the COOL regulation in Switzerland differs from the EU COOL regulation.

Definitions of vegetarian and vegan

Foodstuffs may only be labelled as “vegetarian” or similar if they do not contain any ingredients of animal origin, except for milk, eggs, or honey. They may only be labelled as “vegan” if they contain no ingredients of animal origin at all.

The Swiss Federal Food Safety and Veterinary Office (FSVO) issued an information letter regarding “vegan and vegetarian alternatives to foods of animal origin”. The aim of this information letter is to provide criteria for the assessment of the designations/product names used to ensure a uniform interpretation and application of food law. Surrogates and imitation products may only be labelled and advertised in such a way that consumers are able to recognise the true nature of the food and distinguish it from products with which it could be confused.

Fortification of foods

Swiss law provides for a maximum level model for vitamins and minerals in foods that is focused on protecting health and is based on current scientific knowledge. The model uses tolerable upper intake levels (ULs) for individual nutrients and considers the different intakes of each nutrient: via the normal daily diet (basic intake), via fortified (“enriched”) foods and food supplements, or via foods for athletes.

For these different food categories, nutrients are divided into four groups, ranging from non-critical substances to critical substances with maximum levels, to substances for which maximum levels and warning labels are required.

Cannabis as an ingredient in food or supplements

Hemp seeds, hemp seed oil, hemp seed flour, defatted hemp seed from cannabis sativa seeds are not considered to be novel foodstuffs and are not subject to authorisation.

In Switzerland, herbal tea produced from leaves of the hemp plant is fundamentally considered not to be a novel foodstuff. However, any food business operator who wants to produce, import, or place on the market herbal teas obtained from the hemp plant must provide proof that the herbal tea was already consumed as a foodstuff to a significant degree prior to 15 May 1997, and therefore cannot be classified as a novel foodstuff.

Hemp extracts that contain cannabinoids are listed in the Novel Food Catalogue of the European Commission as novel foods because their use as a foodstuff prior to the 15 May 1997 cannot be confirmed. Consequently, the hemp extracts themselves, as well as products that contain hemp extracts as an ingredient, are novel foods in Switzerland as well. They may only be placed on the market with an authorisation from the Swiss Federal Food Safety and Veterinary Office (FSVO) or from the European Commission.


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.