Plan to lift restrictions on EU imports of vitamin D3 for feed use from China

By Jane Byrne

- Last updated on GMT

© GettyImages/AndreyPopov
© GettyImages/AndreyPopov

Related tags vitamin D3 China EU Commission FEFAC FEFANA

A political agreement has reportedly been reached to proceed with a legislative measure to allow for imports of vitamin D3 from China for use in feed.

The EU Commission (EC), according to a briefing from the UK’s Agricultural Industries Confederation (AIC), is looking to proceed with a revision of Decision 2002/994 to allow for vitamin D3 and precursors from animal origin shipped in from China to be used again in feed in the EU. 

It will reportedly take between three and six months before an amended decision can be published. However, EU feed manufacturing industry body, FEFAC, is expecting official confirmation of the move, in writing, from DG SANTE later this month.


In 2021, the EC determined that vitamin D3 should be reclassified as a product of animal origin (POAO) from its original status of ‘organic chemical’ product. There are no safety concerns - the EC re-classification was simply a legal clarification that no matter the number of processing steps involved, once the starting material is from an animal, like lanolin in the case of vitamin D3, then the product is considered a POAO.

Stemming from this legal clarification was the need to adapt related regulation.

The EU, thus, implemented Regulation (EU) 2022/1322​, of July 25, 2022, amending Regulation (EU) 2021/632 as regards the lists of products of animal origin, animal by-products and composite products subject to official controls at border control posts. That amendment saw casein, cholesterol, creatine, cysteine, gelatin, heparin, vitamin D3 and its precursors of animal origin added to the list.

But, due to Decision (EU) 2002/994​, no EU vitamin D3 imports from China for feed use could then be permitted since the product is categorized as a POAO. Via a derogation within that decision, imports of vitamin D3 from China for use in food supplements, however, are authorized. 

Vitamin D3 imports from other third countries, for use in feed, must meet the requirements of the animal by-product (ABP) legislation. 

‘Wait-and-see mode’

FEFAC and the EU feed additives association, FEFANA, sought to engage with the EC on the issue given China's dominant market share in relation to the supply of both vitamin D3 and the precursors required for the vitamin D3 produced in the EU such as lanolin and cholesterol.

Due to the fact that China is involved, it is a sensitive topic, politically. Most EU national custom authorities have allegedly been in a ‘wait-and-see’​ mode in terms of implementing the legislative changes. However, in mid-December, the Belgian custom authorities decided to reject a shipment of vitamin D3 from China that was destined for feed use, prompting FEFAC and FEFANA to write to the head of DG SANTE requesting that the process to lift the restrictions on such imports be speeded up. 

As per the AIC document, on December 19, DG SANTE informed FEFAC and FEFANA that a political agreement to revise Decision 2002/994 was in play, thus potentially removing the restrictions on imports of vitamin D3 from China for feed supplementation. 

“Given the importance and reliance of vitamin D and intermediates from Asia, it is not surprising that industry participants escalated that topic to the EU Commission immediately, to avoid losses from expired material and, more generally, shortages of important functional ingredients,”​ commented Stefan Schmidinger, chief economist at Kemiex. 

Animal origin classification 

This new legislative measure does not alter the classification of vitamin D3 as a product of animal origin, though, meaning that vitamin D3 for feed use is still regarded as an ABP derived product, and so its import from third countries for feed use must comply with the provisions laid down in Regulation 1069/2009 and 141/2011 as regards imports of ABP and ABP derived products. 

Meanwhile, James McCulloch, head of feed sector, at the AIC, said the trade group had not yet heard from the UK’s Food Standards Agency (FSA) on what its current position is regarding both UK imports of vitamin D3 from China and the classification of that ingredient as a product of animal origin.

Emmanouil Geneiatakis, FAMI-QS secretary general, also weighed in on the topic. He noted that the European feed industry has been dealing with quite a complex regulatory environment over the past year with regards to not only the import of vitamin D3, but any vitamins obtained from animal origin along with gelatin-coated vitamins and pigments, stressing that the EU food and pharma industries have not been exposed to the same level of restrictions. 

“FAMI-QS, in coordination with our feed chain stakeholders, issued a certification instruction ​to ensure that all our certified organizations, globally, are aware of the conditions required for placing vitamins obtained from animal origin and gelatin-coated vitamins and pigments on the EU market, and that they incorporate those requirements into their quality and feed safety systems as per the FAMI-QS code.”​ 

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