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Fact check: Can You Identify Indian and Israeli Products Just By Using Barcodes? No, Viral Message Is A Hoax 

Claim: Easily identify Indian and Israeli products by looking at the barcode.
Fact: Barcodes do not provide any information about the country of origin of a product.

A video has recently gone viral on social media claiming that you can identify Indian and Israeli products by looking at the barcode, and the viral message asks users to boycott them. See the posts here, here, herehere

For quite some time now, there has been a global movement to boycott Israeli products. In the meantime, a movement to boycott Indian products has also started in Bangladesh. During the boycott trend, various posts are often seen on social media. Recently, some barcode numbers have been circulating on various social media platforms claiming that you can identify products from different countries by looking at the first few digits of certain numbers. It is claimed that by identifying Indian and Israeli products in this way, they can be easily boycotted. It is being said that a barcode starting with 729 indicates an Israeli product and a barcode starting with 890 indicates an Indian product. These posts call for a boycott of these products by identifying them.

See screenshots below:

ss of the viral post taken from TikTok
ss of the viral post taken from FB
ss of the viral post taken from FB

Newschecker-Bangladesh has verified these claims and found to be false. 

Fact check/Verification

The Global Standards One Organization (GS1) is the global authority responsible for issuing barcodes, which are used to identify products and track their movement through the supply chain. One common misconception is that the initial digits of a barcode, known as the barcode prefix, indicate the product’s origin. However, this is not the case.

The barcode prefix identifies the GS1 member organization that assigned the barcode number to the manufacturer. GS1 has member organizations in over 100 countries, and each organization assigns barcode numbers to manufacturers within its country. Therefore, the barcode prefix can provide information about the country where the GS1 member organization is located but does not indicate where the product was manufactured.

For example, a company based in China may have a barcode prefix of “00” because they obtained their code from GS1 U.S. This does not mean that the product was manufactured in the United States. The product could have been manufactured anywhere in the world, and the barcode prefix simply indicates that the GS1 member organization that assigned the barcode number is located in the United States.

It is important to note that the barcode prefix (GS1 on Barcode Country Codes)) is only one part of the barcode. The remaining digits of the barcode encode information about the product itself, such as the manufacturer’s code, the product code, and the check digit. The check digit is used to verify the accuracy of the barcode.

Barcodes are an essential part of the global supply chain. They help to ensure that products are tracked accurately and efficiently, and they play a vital role in product safety and quality control.

See the reference here, where GS1 rules out the possibility of identifying country of origin through the barcode initial numbers. 

Decoding the Barcode: Essential Product Information

Barcodes serve as efficient machine-readable labels in the supply chain, encoding vital product data for streamlined tracking. Although the specific data may vary based on the barcode type, these commonly include:

  • Global Trade Item Number (GTIN): A unique identifier exclusively assigned to the product itself.
  • Manufacturer Information: Encoded data providing insights into the company that produced the item.
  • Product Characteristics: Details regarding the product’s physical attributes, such as size and weight.

The packaging of a product often contains crucial information about its country of origin. Many countries have regulations requiring this information to be clearly displayed on the product label. In the United States, the FTC mandates that the country of origin be stated in English and in a prominent location on the packaging. Consumers can gain valuable insights into the product’s manufacturing location and make informed purchasing decisions based on their individual preferences, such as ethical sourcing, sustainability, or quality standards. Determining the country of origin is particularly important in certain industries, such as food, cosmetics, and electronics, where consumers may have specific concerns related to the product’s origin. Examining the packaging for this information empowers consumers to make choices that align with their values and priorities.. Federal Trade Commission on Labeling Requirements.

Conclusion

The Global Standards One Organization (GS1), the body responsible for issuing barcodes, debunks this myth. The initial digits in a barcode, often referred to as the barcode prefix, do not represent the origin of the product

Result: False

Our Sources
GS1 FAQ 
 Federal Trade Commission on Labeling Requirements.
GS1 on Barcode Country Codes


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