What are the requirements for selling supplements online in Europe?
The online sale of supplements can reach a wider audience (especially in the context of a multi-country sale) but is as strictly regulated as the physical sale.
According to Article 14 of Regulation (EU) No. 1169/2011 of 25 October 2011 on the provision of food information to consumers (known as the FIC Regulation), the mandatory information required for prepackaged food offered for sale by means of a distance communication technique is as follows:
Before the conclusion of the act of purchase
The consumer must be provided with all the information required by the FIC Regulation or other texts that have an impact on consumer information for the product in question (such as Directive 2002/6/EC), with the exception of the date of minimum durability or use-by date. For more information on this mandatory information, please refer to our article on the creation of labeling for a food supplement.
Please note: The concept of "batch number" (established in Directive 2011/91/EU) is not an indication intended for the final consumer. It is mainly a traceability tool, which has no impact on consumer choice. It is therefore not mandatory to mention this information before the conclusion of the purchase.
This mandatory food information appears on the distance selling medium or is transmitted by any other appropriate means clearly specified by the food business operator, at no additional cost to the final consumer.
At the time of delivery
All mandatory information must be provided to the consumer (including minimum durability date or use-by date).
In addition, according to article 15 of the FIC regulation, the mandatory information on foodstuffs must appear in a language that is easily understood by consumers in the Member States where the foodstuff is marketed. The latter can impose on their territory that the information appears in one or more of the official languages of the Union. Thus, in Belgium, French, Dutch and German may be mandatory depending on the region in which the product is sold.
Specifically, for websites selling food supplements, it is necessary to indicate all the mandatory information in the official language(s) of the Member States where the product is shipped. At the time of delivery, the product label must also contain all the mandatory information in the official language of the customer. Thus, a product with a label only in English will not be sufficient if the product is sold in Spain or Germany. In this situation, it is possible to use a peel-off label (if this solution is accepted by the competent authority of the destination country), or at least add a sticker with a complete label in Spanish if the product is shipped to Spain.
It should also be remembered that according to Article 1 of Regulation (EC) No. 1924/2006 on nutrition and health claims made on foods, the regulation on claims applies to nutrition and health claims made in commercial communications, whether in the labelling, presentation or advertising of foods to be delivered as such to the final consumer. Any voluntary communication on a website related to claims must therefore comply with this regulation.
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