Grail of Product Origin?

From one of those scare tactic mails full of juicy “information” which thunked into my inbox courtesy of – you know the type – a concerned pathological forwarder of dross (oh, I’m not just harshing on this as an isolated event but as a last drop in the ocean of mails which read like a snopes debunking checklist) :

The whole world is scared of China made ‘black hearted goods’. Can you differentiate which one is made in the USA , Philippines , Taiwan or China ? Let me tell you how… the first 3 digits of the barcode is the country code wherein the product was made.

Sample all barcodes that start with 690.691.692 until 695 are all MADE IN CHINA.

This is our human right to know, but the government and related departments are never educate the public, therefore we have to RESCUE ourselves.

Nowadays, Chinese businessmen know that consumers do not prefer products ‘made in china’, so they don’t show from which country it is made.

However, you may now refer to the barcode, remember if the first 3 digits is 690-695 then it Made in China.

Please inform your family and friends for them to be aware.

Ok. Well, this has some basis but … No, “if the first 3 digits is 690-695 then it Made in China” is incorrect. The digits actually only show the country which issued the code which is generally (technically is supposed to be) the location of the main office. I can have my office in Frankfurt, make all my products in China and use the German GS1 code.

Examples that interest me: 000 – 019 U.S. and Canada, 450 – 459 Japan, 690 – 695 China, The People’s Republic, 885 Thailand, 888 Singapore.

If curious have a look at a list of the EAN/GS1 codes or check out Snopes for their piece on this code=origin issue. Or, if you’re the type, Wikipedia has the mathy angle covered. Ok, so all this is interesting, but it will not be saving you from death by dairy.