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Do the First Three Digits of a Bar Code Indicate Country of Origin?

photo by Debbie Ray

I received an email from several people last week about how to avoid consuming items from countries that don’t subscribe to U.S. agriculture and manufacturing standards. You may have also seen it on facebook. It said that you can determine a product’s country of origin by looking at the first three numbers of the bar code on the package. Here’s an excerpt from the message (actual source is unknown):

 

“If the first 3 digits of the bar code are 690, 691 or 692, the product is MADE IN CHINA.
471 is Made in Taiwan .
If the first 3 digits of the bar code are 00-09 then it’s made or sourced in USA.
890……MADE IN INDIA
690, 691, 692 … then it is MADE IN CHINA
00 – 09 … USA and CANADA
30 – 37 … FRANCE
40 – 44 … GERMANY
471 …….. Taiwan
45 or 49 ……..JAPAN
489………..HONG KONG
50 ………. UK
57 ………DENMARK
64……….FINLAND
76………SWITZERLAND and LIENCHTENSTIEN
471……… is Made in TAIWAN (see sample)
628………SAUDI ARABIA
629………UNITED ARAB EMIRATES
740……….745 – CENTRAL AMERICA”

As it turns out, this is only partly true. I went to my favorite internet rumor debunking site, Snopes.com, and they say that, “the three digit prefix code indicates which numbering organization has allocated the bank of numbers to the country… [but]… if a Mexican company imported fruit from Guatemala, then packed and shipped that fruit to Belgium, the country code… would likely indicate an origin of Mexico, rather than Guatemala.”

In the photo of my French Market coffee can bar code, you can see the 07, which indicates U.S., which is where it’s ground, but coffee beans generally come from places like Columbia, Jamaica and Kenya.

Read more from Snopes here.

 

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