Consuming Products from Foreign Countries


  • The original source of products we purchase and consume in the U.S. has come under scrutiny.  People have a variety of reasons to know which foreign countries are producing products consumed in the United States.  For instance, some feel that outsourcing jobs to foreign countries diminishes employment opportunities here.  Others are concerned about the safety of products which do not meet U.S. manufacturing and production standards, from toys painted with leaded paint to food sprayed with pesticides which are outlawed in the U.S.  
  • Many companies who distribute foreign products in the U.S. intentionally fail to reveal that source on product packaging; instead, they only state where the distributor is located.  
  • For those who desire to know which foreign countries are likely producing these items can do one of two things:
1)  Carefully read the labels on food and other items to locate the name of the country which produced the product.  

2)  Analyze the Bar Code.  The first 3 digits of the Bar Code reveal the country which issued the Bar Code.  The country assigned to the code is NOT necessarily the country of origin for the product, but is an indicator of where the product was possibly grown or produced.   Following are some of the code which identify various countries:  

000-139        United States
400-440        Germany
450-499        Japan
460-469         Russia
471                Taiwan
480                Philippines
489                Hong Kong
500-509         UK
780                 Chile
690-695         China
729                 Israel
740-745         Central America
750                 Mexico
754-755         Canada

For more information on reading Bar Codes and the specific code identification for nearly 100 countries which “issued the code,” view
http://www.snopes.com/politics/business/barcodes.asp