2DBarcodes: the future of food safety for retail?

GS1 Australia

Thursday, 07 May, 2020

2DBarcodes: the future of food safety for retail?

With supermarkets recognising the need to transform the way food is managed within the supply chain to ensure customer safety, GS1 Australia has introduced the 2DBarcode — a content-rich, on-pack symbol that enables multiple data elements to be available at point of sale. This includes product batch/lot number, serial number, best before date, use-by date, pack date, weight and price.

“One of the major challenges to achieving increased food safety in retail is the sheer volume of data in the supply chain. Data from multiple sources and in disparate formats. To date the retail sector at large has not had the necessary tools to address this challenge in the context of today’s market conditions and operational realities,” said Andrew Steele, Account Director for Retail at GS1 Australia.

Woolworths has already taken a proactive approach to improving consumer food safety by piloting 2DBarcodes in a trial across several stores in Sydney. The 2DBarcodes can help solve many retail business problems in the areas of meat, seafood, deli, dairy, bakery, and packaged fruits and vegetables, as they can provide information that cannot be squeezed onto a traditional linear barcode.

“The (2DBarcode) trial was a complete success and demonstrates that 2DBarcodes have immense potential. We’re excited to see how they can improve food safety across the entire Woolworths network,” said Richard Plunkett, General Manager of Business Enablement at Woolworths.

The 2DBarcodes can facilitate food safety by stopping the sale of expired or recalled products at the register. If an out-of-date or recalled product is scanned at point-of-sale, the information contained in the 2DBarcode will alert the customer and prohibit the product from being purchased.

For suppliers and retailers, food products can be recalled by batch lot number, with the affected batch lots identified more accurately within the supply chain. This means only the affected products need to be removed from warehouses and supermarket shelves. The current recall process requires all recalled products to be removed from the supply chain and disposed of.

The 2DBarcodes will also allow retailers to pinpoint specific batches affected by a recall or withdrawal and trace it back through the production line, making it easier to identify the source of contamination. 2DBarcodes will also help increase food freshness and sustainability, as the extra data enables improvements to data management, thereby enhancing product rotation to increase food freshness and reduce food waste. In future, customers will also be able to access the information contained within 2DBarcodes on their smartphones.

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