The first product to be given a barcode was Wrigley’s Chewing Gum and it was scanned in Ohio in 1974.  The first three digits of the barcode will give you the country of origin.  This has become important to many people after several scandals involving tainted products, food poisoning and death.

Many customers around the world are avoiding the so called ‘black hearted goods’ which are made in China.  Where does our food come from is a vexed question?  ‘Product of’ and ‘Grown In’ means that at least a significant part of that product was from the country claimed.  Product is processed food and Grown is fresh food. If ‘Product of Australia’ is shown on a packet of smoked salmon it means the salmon was caught and smoked in Australia.  If a sticker ‘Grown In Australia’ appears on an apple, it was grown in Australia.Full with products supermarket shopping cart

‘Made In’ means the product was made in that country and not just packaged and at least 50% of the cost of production was incurred in that country.  A claim ‘Made in Australia from local and imported ingredients’ doesn’t spell out the proportion of the ingredients that are local and from which country they are imported.  This became critical after fruit for jams was sent to Australia from contaminated sources.

‘Ownership Claims’ is another conundrum.  ‘100% Australian Owned’ or ‘Proudly Australian Owned’ doesn’t mean the product is Australian.

It is worthwhile to make a card which will fit in your wallet with the barcode product origins. Smartphone "QR Code" An app is available for smart phones and these can scan the barcode in the supermarket.  Until I learn the relevant numbers I have a small selection written down.  I have also complained to supermarket managers about certain produce e.g. garlic being labelled from local and overseas.  Just ridiculous; we can’t sort which clove is Australian grown!  I am also not keen on seafood from China, brought in frozen and labelled ‘thawed for your convenience’.

Sources:  (1) The Australian Competition & Consumer Commission  (2) Determining Product Origins by Bar Code:

More information on food using codes and numbers can be found at this is an excellent source to understand what you are eating.  If you have the time you can check barcodes worldwide, preservatives and their numbers, for example E200-E300 showing both natural and synthetic additives, food allergies and source products that are suited to your own particular health regime.

Below are listed some of the more common barcodes, however the world list is available on


  1. 93 AUS & NZ
  2. 00-13 USA & CANADA
  3. 30-37 FRANCE
  4. 40-44 GERMANY
  5. 49 JAPAN
  6. 50 UK
  7. 57 DENMARK
  8. 64 FINLAND
  11. 740-745 CENTRAL AMERICA
  12. 46 RUSSIA
  13. 520 HONG KONG
  14. 590 POLAND
  15. 600-601 S.A.
  16. 70 NORWAY
  17. 729 ISRAEL
  18. 750 MEXICO
  19. 885 THAILAND
  20. 955 MALAYSIA
  21. 775 PERU
  22. 80-83 ITALY