Making or selling food supplements

This information is provided by

Netherlands Enterprise Agency, RVO

If you make or sell food supplements or herbal preparations you need to comply with Dutch legislation (in Dutch). You have to fulfil requirements concerning for instance composition and labelling. The Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (Nederlandse Voedsel- en Warenautoriteit, NVWA, in Dutch) supervises production, composition and labelling of these products.

Food supplements

Food supplements are vitamins, minerals and other substances that have a nutritional or physiological effect and that aim to supplement our regular diet. They come in a variety of forms, including traditional tablets, capsules, powders, liquid drops or drinks. If you sell these supplements in the Netherlands, you must comply with Dutch legislation (in Dutch).

Herbal preparations

Herbal preparations are herbal substances that may or may not have been processed and that are intended for human use. They are made up of plant material. Herbal preparations are absorbed through the mouth, skin or via inhaling. Herbal or spice extracts and some food supplements are also considered herbal preparations. If you sell these preparations or food supplements containing herbal preparations, you must comply with the Herbal Preparations (Commodities Act) Decree (Warenwetbesluit Kruidenpreparaten, in Dutch).

European directive for food supplements

Dutch legislation is based on the European directive regarding food supplements. The directive contains rules regarding:

  • average daily quantities (ADQ)
  • minimum and maximum quantities of vitamins and minerals a supplement must contain
  • health-related claims on packaging and in advertisements

If you make food supplements you may only use vitamins and minerals specified in Annex I and vitamin and mineral substances specified in Annex II of the food supplements directive.

Food supplement claims

As food supplements are not considered medicines, they may not contain ingredients deemed medicines as stated in the Medicines Act (Geneesmiddelenwet). Food supplements are not allowed to make medical claims. Health-related claims are allowed, but only if they can be substantiated. The European Union has drafted a list of scientifically substantiated claims.

Labelling requirements

Food supplements are subject to the standard requirements for food labelling. Additional requirements also apply. Food supplements labels must also state:

  • the recommended dosage
  • the designation 'food supplement'
  • the name, type and quantity of active ingredients
  • a warning to keep the food supplement out of the reach of children
  • a statement that the supplement must not be used as a substitute for a varied diet

This information is provided by

Netherlands Enterprise Agency, RVO