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HMRC internal manual

VAT Food

Items benefiting from the relief: what is food?: food supplements (dietary supplements): oils

In general, food supplements in the form of oils to be taken by the spoonful or in similar dosages are not considered to be food and are therefore standard-rated. This view is supported by the tribunal results in such a case as Marfleet Refining Co Ltd (V.129) which looked at cod liver oil.

Two later cases both involving the trader Durwin Banks has added depth to the case law in this area. The original Durwin Banks (V.18904) case considered linseed oil and the tribunal decided that it was not food but a food supplement and accordingly should be standard-rated. However, a later appeal by Durwin Banks (V.20695) on an almost identical product was decided differently and was zero-rated as a foodstuff. The main difference was that there was more evidence in the second tribunal concerning the palatability and use of the oil and the increasing retail market for the product in supermarkets. The product had also shifted away from recommending consumption in doses to use as a culinary ingredient.