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Definition of margarine

The legal status of spreadable fats or yellow fat spreads (i.e. butter, dairy spread, margarine, fat spread, blend and blended spread) has been EU harmonized by Council Regulation (EC) No 2991/94.

In 2004, the legal provisions were integrated in Council Regulation (EC) No 1234/2007 establishing a common organisation of agricultural markets and specific provisions for certain agricultural products. The Single Common Market Organisation (CMO) Regulation consolidates and incorporates the provisions of various vertical regulations related to agricultural products e.g. for yellow fat spreads, see Article 115 and Annex XV.

Yellow fat spreads are defined as products:

  • with a fat content of at least 10% but less than 90%
  • intended for human consumption
  • that remain solid at a temperature of 20°C
  • and are suitable as spread.

Fat content excluding the salt must be at least 2/3 of the dry matter. Margarines/fat spreads/blends and blended spreads are water-in-oil emulsions, derived from solid/liquid vegetable/animal fats, with a milk fat content of not more than 3% for margarines/fat spreads and between 10% and 80% for blends and blended spreads.

Annex XV of the Single CMO Regulation lays down the sales denomination of margarines, fat spreads and blended spreads according to their fat content level, as follows:


Because of its traditional usage, the denomination " flytande margarin " is allowed (in Swedish only) for a liquid product containing at least 80% vegetable fats. Please see Commission Regulation (EC) No 445/2007 for reference.