Naturally, I wondered if this applied to other countries, particularly to Mexico, which has dumped so many of its surplus peasants into our country, or India, which has sent so many of their citizens here to steal jobs from Americans via the H-1B and L-1 visa programs. And I finally found a source, Food-info.net, which lists the barcodes from numerous countries. This site also provides us with a bit of history behind the evolution of bar codes.
Bar codes have become second nature. If you look in your fridge or pantry right now, you will find that just about every package you see has a bar code printed on it. In fact, nearly every item that you buy in a grocery shop, supermarket or superstore has a bar code on it somewhere.
Bar codes were first used commercially in 1966, but it was soon realised that there would have to be a common standard. By 1970, the Universal Grocery Products Identification Code (UGPIC) was written by a company called Logicon Inc. The standard was further improved and led to the Universal Product Code (UPC) symbol set. To this very day, this standard is used in the United States and Canada . In June of 1974, the first UPC scanner was installed at a Marsh's supermarket in Troy, Ohio, and the first product to have a bar code was Wrigley's Gum.
The Universal Product Code was the first bar code symbology widely adopted. Its birth is usually set at 3 April 1973, when the grocery industry formally established UPC as the standard bar code symbology for product marking. Foreign interest in UPC led to the adoption of the EAN (European Article Numbering) code format, similar to UPC, in December 1976.
Currently, the United States and Canada use UPC bar codes as their standard for retail labelling, whereas the rest of the world uses EAN. Since January 1, 2005 all retail scanning systems in the USA must be able to accept the EAN-13 symbol as well as the standard UPC-A. This change will eliminate the need for manufacturers who export goods to the US and Canada to double-label their products.
The first 2 (sometimes 3) digits, which are called the “flag”, indicate in what country the bar code was issued. Here's a caveat, though: This “flag” does not tell you in what country the product was produced. Example below, from the Hal Turner website:
As the above display cycles, you can see the first three digits highlighted indicate that the product comes from Israel (729 = Israel). If you're more interested in boycotting products from Mexico, as many patriotic Americans are, look for barcodes which start with 750.
The country codes used are as follows (I've highlighted the countries I boycott):
CODE(S) - COUNTRY
00-13: USA & Canada
20-29: reserved for local use (shops/supermarkets)
479: Sri Lanka
489: Hong Kong
50: United Kingdom
54: Belgium & Luxembourg
600-601: South Africa
628: Saudi Arabia
629: United Arab Emirates
690-692: Communist China
741: El Salvador
744: Costa Rica
746: Dominican Republic
859: Czech Republic
860: Serbia & Montenegro
880: South Korea
94: New Zealand
977: ISSN (International Standard Serial Number for periodicals)
978: ISBN (International Standard Book Number)
979: ISMN (International Standard Music Number)