GS1 Barcode Country Designation Not a Certain Identifier of COO…? Oh Oh!by sterling1 on Nov 15, 2008 • 8:59 am 1 Comment
Knowing where a given product was actually made never seemed very important way back when. Who made it, yes. When? Yes. But where exactly? Not so much.
But that all changed when recent events in China revealed some manufacturers’ preference for putting plastic in milk to fake out inspection tests for protein content. (I assume this was done to make extra money, but no one seems to have followed that trail in the face of babies dead and some 50,000+ babies hospitalized.) Our attitude towards where also changed when diners at fast food places here in the U.S. started getting sick for reasons thought to be linked to the mishandling of fresh produce. Now, where something came from is on everyone’s mind.
It is not a small issue. Posts here about Country of Origin (COO) identifiers have been the most widely read in recent weeks. And, in fact, the questions and confusions worldwide among consumers and others on this issue have grown so fast that GS1 US elected to clarify their position on the matter. This is because it is widely believed that an organization seeking to set and establish the standard to end all standards in the product identification space worldwide must have anticipated the COO issue and solved it via their approach. Here’s their position:
The GS1 Prefix is not an indication of the country of origin or location of manufacturer. As it relates to trade item identification, the GS1 Prefix is simply a series of numbers assigned by GS1 Global Office to a GS1 Member Organization in a specific country who then assigns numbers to brand owners in that country. There is no prohibition, and in fact every allowance, that the brand owner may manufacturer these goods anywhere in the world, and of course they do. GS1 GTIN is simply a pointer to a database or message where attribute information can be found, but even so if a product is manufactured in many locations (commonplace) then determining specific manufacturing locations would require either Lot Numbers or Serial Numbers with linkage to associated production information. In summary, we do not take a position on how to achieve this goal, but clearly state this cannot be derived from our numbering system.
Is this a problem? Will it affect the impending FDA decision in selecting and imposing the ultimate standard for identifying medical devices and healthcare products? While I don’t think this is necessarily a show stopper or a deal breaker, I’d like to hear from you. And, since I know that the folks at GS1 tune in here from time to time, your comments here will let them know where you stand on this issue.
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