Importing cooking oils

Guidance on licensing, labelling, packaging, chemical safety when importing cooking oils.
Last updated

General information

Imports of cooking oils from countries outside the European Union (EU) must meet the same or equivalent food hygiene and compositional standards and procedures as food produced in other EU Member States. You do not normally need a health certificate to import cooking oils.

Import licences

You may not need a health or hygiene licence to import food, but many foods from countries outside the EU require licences for trading purposes and may be subject to quotas.

For further information please contact the Rural Payments Agency by email at Trader@rpa.gsi.gov.uk.

Food colourings, flavourings and sweeteners

Some oils contain food colourings, flavourings or sweeteners. Although these may be approved by the food authority in the country of origin, some may not be approved in the EU.

For information on food flavourings, sweeteners, colourings and preservatives, please contact our Food Additives team.

Labelling

You will find general information about food labelling at GOV.UK.

For advice on the labelling of specific products, please contact your local authority’s Trading Standards Department or Environmental Health Department. 

Olive oil

Department of Farming and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) provide information on marketing standards for olive oil.

Organic information

If you are importing organic products (live or unprocessed agricultural products, processed agricultural for use as food or feed and vegetative propagating material and seeds for cultivation), from outside the EU, please contact the Organic Imports team at DEFRA.

Packaging

Food contact materials and articles, including those used for food packaging, are controlled by a comprehensive EU harmonised legislation that has been fully implemented in the UK. This legislation is particularly thorough in its control of plastic materials and articles intended for food use.

For information on the safety of packaging please contact the Food Contact Materials Team.

Food hygiene

For general enquiries on food hygiene please contact the Food Hygiene Policy Team by email at foodhygiene.policy@food.gov.uk.

Pesticides

For information on pesticides safety levels for imports please contact Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE) Chemicals Regulation Directorate (CRD).

Contaminants

A guidance note on the Contaminants in Food (England) Regulations 2013, which make provision for enactment and enforcement of Commission Regulations setting regulatory limits for contaminants in food (nitrate, mycotoxins, metals, 3-MCPD, dioxins and PAHs).

See our business guidance on contaminants.

Import restrictions

There are some import restrictions/requirements that can apply to cooking oils of which importers need to be aware. 

Higher-risk products

Imports of certain feed and food of non-animal origin that are considered 'higher-risk' can only enter the UK through specific ports and airports which are designated points of entry (DPEs) where official controls will be carried out. A “higher-risk” product is feed or food that is either known to be, or is, an emerging risk to public health. 

Products of animal origin

The rules for importing animal-based cooking oils are dealt with by the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA). APHA is an Executive Agency of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA).

Information on importing cooking oils that contain shellfish or fish, or their products, can be found online.

Imports of feed and food from Japan

Imports of all feed and food originating in or consigned from Japan to the EU are subject to special conditions. This is following the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan in March 2011. This means that consignments of feed and food can only enter the UK through specific ports and airports where official controls will be carried out.