Labelling of vegetable oils and fats

Saturates vs Unsaturates

Each vegetable oil/fat or animal fat naturally contains a proportion of saturated and unsaturated fatty acids. Saturated fatty acids tend to be solid at room temperature, whilst unsaturated fatty acids are liquid. Scientific studies have proven that, for health reasons, unsaturated fatty acids should be consumed in preference to saturated fatty acids. This is why all national and international dietary guidelines recommend vegetable oils high in unsaturated fatty acids over vegetable oil/fats high in saturated fatty acids or over animal fats. More is available in the glossary.

Partially vs Fully hydrogenated

To make a croissant fluffy, oils/fats high in saturated fats are needed. Since saturated fats are solid at room temperature, they maintain the fluffy structure of the croissant after baking. A process called hydrogenation was created many years ago, to transform liquid or semi liquid oils into solid or semi solid fats. Due to such a process, fully hydrogenated oils contain more saturated fatty acids than the original oil, to make them fit for use as ingredients in food products like croissants. Fully hydrogenated oils contain levels of TFA well below 2%.  On the other hand, partially hydrogenated oil means that the oil has not been completely hydrogenated. This does not mean that the partially hydrogenated fat is healthier than a fully hydrogenated fat since the process of partial hydrogenation generates a high proportion of trans fatty acids (TFA). Partially hydrogenated oils tend not to be used anymore on the EU market.

For more details on hydrogenation see here

Other wordings may also appear on bottled oils such as

Deodorisation is a step of the refining process, which makes an oil fit for consumption (improved organoleptic profile in final foods, neutral odour and taste). For more information, see here.

Oleic is a wording used to differentiate some types of vegetable oils from the same botanical origin. For example, high oleic sunflower oil is a type of sunflower oil, whose seeds naturally contain a higher amount of mono-unsaturated fat. This makes such an oil especially fit for use at higher temperatures such as for frying and cooking. For more information on mono-unsaturated fat, see here

Vitamin E is a type of vitamin, which is part  of  the  antioxidant  defense  system and helps protect us against free radicals that naturally form in our body. Vegetable oils and fats are good sources of vitamin E and if a certain amount is contained in the oil, it can be labelled. This is why you can see some claims like “high in vitamin E” on some bottled oils.


All health and nutrition “claims” which are made on a label have to be authorised at EU level and meet a number of criteria including on the content of the substance which is “claimed” to be in the oil. This is the case when using reference to the content in vitamin E or if it is “high in omega 3”. A list of all EU claims which can be made on bottled vegetable oils - health or nutrition claims - can be found here

Best before

All foods contain a consumption date on their label. In the case of bottled vegetable oils and fats, this is a “best before date”. It indicates that the product keeps its quality, flavour and taste for a certain period of time. After that, its quality might not be as good, but does not present health risks.

Other information on date marking can be found here

FEDIOL labelling recommendations on frying oils

FEDIOL,  the EU vegetable oil and proteinmeal industry association, has signed the EU Code of Conduct for responsible business and marketing practices in June 2021. To implement the various aspirational objectives of the Code, FEDIOL has set up a Action Plan for Implementation of the Code and its content was shared in the annual report, to the Commission in April 2022. To contribute to aspirational objective one on Healthy, balanced, and sustainable diets for all European consumers, thereby contributing to: 1) Reversing malnutrition and diet-related non communicable diseases (NCDs) in the EU 2) Reducing the environmental footprint of food consumption by 2030, FEDIOL decided among others to develop a FEDIOL recommendation on the labelling of frying oils, which was finalised in March 2023 and is available here