Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign
التضامن الإيرلندي الفلسطيني

A note on barcodes: Israel has not “changed its barcode to defeat BDS”

barcodetesco

Stories and images have been doing the rounds on social media sites claiming that Israel has changed its barcode from 729 to 871 (or other numbers like 500) in order to fool people looking out for the 729 barcode.

This mistaken belief stems from a misunderstanding of how barcodes work. A barcode only tells you which country a company is from, not where the contents of the product originate.

What appears to be happening is that 871 is the Dutch barcode (and 500 is the UK one) and Israeli products are being sold by Dutch and UK (and even Irish)-based companies. To take a concrete example, in the case of Tesco ‘meat free mince’, Tesco is a UK-based company so the barcode is 500, even though the product inside is manufactured and packaged in Israel. What is important for barcode purposes is where the company who sells the goods are registered, NOT where the contents of the goods are produced, manufactured or packaged.

A country can’t simply change its barcode assignation because it feels like it, it doesn’t work like that and barcode assignation is a complicated and regulated international process.

This is just another reason to always look for the country of origin of a product and not rely solely on barcodes. Similarly, some things that may be made in a third country are sold by Israeli-registered companies with the 729 barcode, even though they may say (eg) ‘Made in Taiwan’ on the packaging. These should be boycotted too.