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Kwasi Gyamfi Asiedu
By Kwasi Gyamfi Asiedu November 21, 2023

No, Israel has not changed its bar code

If Your Time is short

  • Bar codes are traded all over the world among companies and the codes are not a conclusive way to determine a product’s country of origin.

  • Bar code prefixes are assigned based on the location of the companies that request them, the organization that standardizes bar codes said. But they should not be used to identify where a product was made.

  • The number "729" is assigned to Israel but a product with that code doesn’t mean it was made in Israel. The number "871" is already assigned to the Netherlands.

Are innocuous black and white bar codes on consumer product packages telling a story of political deception? That’s what one TikTok video claims.

Above a hashtag that reads, "#boycottisrael," the Nov. 11 video implored people to share the news. 

"Israel has changed their barcode from *729* to *871*," words across the 13-second video warned. "Bar code changed as the public was boycotting Israeli products. Please share!"

A photo then shows two bar codes, one that begins with the number 729 and another that starts with 871. Both mean the product was "made in Israel," the video claimed.

TikTok identified this video as part of its efforts to counter inauthentic, misleading or false content. (Read more about PolitiFact's partnership with TikTok.)

That’s because these bar code numbers do not necessarily show that a product is made in Israel, nor are different numbers assigned in response to boycotts.

Agence France-Presse fact-checked this same claim in 2021 and found it misleading. It also fact-checked a similar claim about Chinese products in 2020.

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GS1, a New Jersey-based nonprofit, standardizes barcodes and assigns them to companies. Its website says that "GS1 Prefixes do not identify the country of origin for a given product."

Bar code prefixes are assigned based on the location of the companies that request them, but global supply chains mean products can be manufactured anywhere in the world. "The GS1 Prefix does not indicate that the product was manufactured in a specific country or by a specific manufacturer; it may have been produced anywhere in the world," GS1 said.

Some companies sell bar codes to companies in other countries.  

Although a hypothetical product with a 729 code could have been manufactured in Israel, it could also have been manufactured by a small business in Guatemala that bought the code to help grow the business’s accounting and inventory practices. Bar code prefixes are not an authoritative way to determine a product’s country of origin. 

Also, codes 870 to 879 are already assigned to companies in the Netherlands and not Israel, according to a list published by GS1. Again, it does not mean that only Dutch companies use those codes, it simply means that the company that requested for the codes had a presence in the Netherlands.

The Israel-Hamas war has reignited calls by some pro-Palestinian groups to boycott goods made in Israel. But Israel has not responded in the way this TikTok post says.

We rate the claim that "Israel has changed their bar code from 729 to 871 … as the public was boycotting Israeli products" False.


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No, Israel has not changed its bar code

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