Food supplements are food products which differ from normal foods by either their appearance or the way in which they are used. Food supplements often visually resemble medicines: they can be pills, capsules or herbal extracts, for example. On the basis of their composition, however, food supplements are foods and governed by the Food Act. Food supplements include e.g. products designed for the intake of e.g. vitamins, minerals, fibre, fatty acids and lecithin as well as herbal, garlic and bee products.
- For more information about food supplements go to the website of the Finnish Food Safety Authority Evira.
Food supplements are not medicines. The ingredients used in food supplements should not have medicinal effects, and it is prohibited to suggest they have properties that would prevent, treat or cure diseases in humans.
- For more information about the differences between medicines and food supplements, go to the website of the Finnish Medicines Agency Fimea.
Ordering food supplements online
Consumers should be particularly careful when ordering food supplements online. A product may contain medical substances that pose a health risk. The person who orders the product is responsible for finding out whether is classified as a food supplement or a medicine.
- For more information about products classified as medicines, go to Fimea's website.
Points to consider
The EU has common legislation on food supplements (Directive 2002/46/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council relating to food supplements), but e.g. some products marketed as food supplements in the USA may be classified as medicines or normal foodstuffs in Finland.
Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry Decree on Food Supplements (78/2010) (available in Finnish and Swedish)
For more information about the legislation on food supplements, go to the website of Evira.
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