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HMRC internal manual

VAT Food

Interpretation of group 1

In applying the relief, we are primarily concerned with the nature of the product itself rather than with its end use. Confusion sometimes arises because both the officer and the supplier are aware that the goods on sale will not be used for human consumption.

An example would be fish, such as mackerel, fit for human consumption but which is sold as bait. Because mackerel is covered by general item 1 (see VFOOD0200), and is not covered by any exception, the supply can be zero-rated; and no consideration need be given to the use to which it will be put. Similarly, salt of a culinary type is zero-rated because it is of a kind used for human consumption, even though it may be put to other uses.

You should consider how a product is held out for sale only when the wording of the law requires a distinction to be made. For instance, some products can be used both as animal feeding stuffs and as pet food. As pet food is excluded from zero-rating under excepted item 6, it is necessary to distinguish between the two. You should then look at how it is held out for sale, taking into account packaging, labelling, advertising and any notices or displays.

This principle also applies to goods covered by excepted item 7 (see VFOOD0200). When goods such as hops are covered by zero-rating in the general items, but are sold for use in domestic brewing or wine-making, they are standard-rated. You can only determine that the product falls within that excepted item by looking at how it is held out for sale.