Changes are happening fast in food labeling due to traceability and Country of Origin requirements. Because of this, suppliers will need to start labeling their produce with the new GS1 DataBar label format by 2010. Eventually, the GS1 DataBar will replace the 4 and 5 digit PLU labels used in the past.
PLU (Price Look-up) labels are those tiny stickers on our fruits and vegetables that identify the Country of Origin and the product. Each fruit and vegetable has its own numeric code that identifies the item and tells you how the produce was grown; whether conventionally, organically, or genetically engineered.
The GS1 DataBar is very similar to the UPC barcode in that it has a unique manufacturer’s code and product code embedded in the barcode symbology. But the GS1 DataBar is much smaller than the UPC barcode, making it possible for the symbol to carry more information and identify small hard-to-mark items, like fresh foods. The GS1 DataBar can carry GS1 Application Identifiers such as serial numbers, lot numbers, and expiration dates, creating solutions to support product authentication and traceability for fresh food products.
The GS1 DataBar, already in use today in the healthcare industry, costs less to mark and is supported by most of the scanner hardware already in use. For more information about GS1 DataBar labeling, visit www.gs1.org/barcodes/databar.