VAT treatment of specialised food products

By Tolley

The following Value Added Tax guidance note by Tolley provides comprehensive and up to date tax information covering:

  • VAT treatment of specialised food products
  • Food supplements
  • Food for invalids
  • Diabetic and hypoallergenic food
  • Food for dieters / slimmers
  • Sports products
  • Religious and sacramental products
  • Products used during commercial food manufacture
  • Mixed supplies
  • Mixtures and assortments
  • Food packing
  • Conclusion

If a business is supplying products designed to meet specific dietary requirements for people with disabilities or who are dieting etc, the VAT treatment will depend on the exact nature of the product supplied. This guidance note provides an overview of the VAT treatment of some typical specialised food products.

VFOOD2700; VFOOD1920De Voil V4.219 (subscription sensitive)VATA 1994, Sch 8, Group 1
Food supplements

If the dietary supplement is not considered to be purchased and consumed as food, it will be liable to VAT at the standard rate. The following is a list of the typical dietary supplements that are liable to VAT:

  • any kind of vitamin and / or mineral supplement. Please see VFOOD1960 and VFOOD1940.
  • products made from royal jelly (excludes food products with royal jelly added). Please see VFOOD2000.
  • capsules, pills and other tables containing the following (please also see VFOOD1980 and VFOOD2040):
    • wheatgerm
    • yeast
    • garlic
    • evening primrose
    • seaweed
    • gingseng
    • guarana
    • fibre
    • other herbal remedies and products
  • charcoal biscuits
  • cod liver and other fish oils used as a dietary supplement. Please see VFOOD2060.
  • elixirs and tonics sold as dietary supplements. Please see VFOOD2020.
  • malt extract mixed with cod liver oil if its held out as a dietary supplement
Food for invalids

These products are usually supplied in liquid form, or as a powder which is intended to be mixed with liquid. These can be products which are intended to be given intravenously (parenteral).

If the product is intended to meet the nutritional rather than medical needs of the invalid, they can be zero-rated (subject to the normal rules). Liquid foods intended to build up patients can also be zero-rated.

Diabetic and hypoallergenic food

If a business supplies specialised food, such as bread, pasta, sugar free preserves and gluten free flour and cakes, the supply can be zero-rated.

However any specialised confectionery or gluten fee chocolate biscuits are liable to VAT in the same way as the normal products of this type.

Food for dieters / slimmers

If a business supplies food that has

More on Zero-rated supplies: