Is there a European standard for example for what could be sold as vanilla extracts? The only definition of concentration and ingredients appears to be in US Code 21 CFR 169.175.

  • On the other hand it is exceptionally easy to make excellent vanilla extract. I put about 20 vanilla beans in a liter of vodka ( after several months) , the result smells as strong or stronger than any commercial product . And lasts a long time. Jan 17, 2018 at 20:05

1 Answer 1


There's not really a European equivalent for the FDA's definition of extract (by ethanol percentage). Instead, the EU specifies what constitutes natural vs 'vanilla flavouring' (euphemism for 'artificial').

See the EU's white paper on it here (notably page 15): AUTHENTICITY OF VANILLA AND VANILLA EXTRACTS

Also, in plainer speak, info on vanilla industry standards between the US and EU here.

Additional reading: the EU directive ISO 9235 specifies what can be listed as artificial/natural and covers vanilla/vanillin.

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    So only the US prescribes a minimum amount of effectively dry-basis beans in a given quantity of solvents. Then does it necessarily mean that "strength" can vary massively between brands/manufacturers? Interesting to see a paper from Sigma Aldrich - is there a voluntary industry code or standard?
    – user110084
    May 18, 2017 at 14:17
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    AFAIK there's no standard on strength/percentage, though technically it's required in EU labelling (so you're not likely to see 'Vanilla 2%). Keep in mind this is only EU we're talking about - that's not to say there aren't regulation within a given country. For example, here in Ireland there are laws dictating various types of beer labelling (lager, ale, stout, etc) which differ from UK and German law but all fall safely under EU food and drug regulation. A bit more detailed research into specific national food regulations could be useful here - if you care that is :D
    – kettultim
    May 18, 2017 at 14:31
  • I have been digging around for a while but so far only the FDA has anything close to stipulating "strength", even that has so much wriggle room. Thanks for the input!
    – user110084
    May 18, 2017 at 16:06

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