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HMRC internal manual

VAT Food

Excepted items: snack products: rice cakes


Plain rice cakes are not savoury and are also considered to require further preparation before consumption and accordingly are zero-rated by excepted Item 5.

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Flavoured (savoury)

Flavoured rice cakes are intended to be consumed without further preparation and therefore, as savoury food products obtained by the swelling of cereals and cereal products, under excepted Item 5, are standard-rated. The fact that such rice cakes could be eaten with a topping does not bring them within the auspices of requiring further preparation. Rice cakes including sesame seeds falls within this category.

This view was supported by the decision of the tribunal in the case of Quaker Trading Ltd (V.20604). Flavoured rice cakes sold by the appellant were considered not to require further preparation before they could be consumed.

The problem area is salted rice cakes. Lightly salted cakes are considered to require further preparation before consumption; whereas more heavily salted rice cakes are not. However, there is no guideline as to where this borderline falls, and this must therefore be judged on a matter of perception, a consideration of the packaging and how the product is held out for sale.

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Flavoured (sweetened)

Sweetened rice cakes are prepared items of sweetened food normally eaten with the fingers. However, they are considered to be biscuits within the meaning of excepted Item 2 and are therefore zero-rated.