Fact Check: About the Claim That Israel Changed Country Barcode Prefix to Avoid Boycotts on Its Products

X user @DaddyMinusSugar
X user @DaddyMinusSugar


Israel changed the barcode prefix for the products manufactured in the country in order to skirt boycotts.


Rating: False
Rating: False


Country barcode prefixes do not indicate where a product was made, only the country where the company that makes the product is registered. Also, Israel hasn't changed its barcode prefix.


The protracted, often bloody Israeli-Palestinian conflict exploded into a hot war on Oct. 7, 2023, when the militant Palestinian group Hamas launched a deadly attack on Israel and Israel retaliated by bombarding the Gaza Strip. More than 20,000 people, the vast majority of them Palestinians, were reportedly killed during the first two months of the war alone. The violence is driven by mutual hostilities and territorial ambitions dating back more than a century. The internet has become an unofficial front in that war and is rife with misinformation, which Snopes is dedicated to countering with facts and context. You can help. Read the latest fact checks. Submit questionable claims. Become a Snopes Member to support our work. We welcome your participation and feedback.

Since October 2023, after Hamas launched its attack on Israel and Israel retaliated with a military campaign in the Gaza Strip, activists have called for boycotts of Israeli products and companies as a way to put pressure on the Israeli government to stop harming Palestinians. Viral social media posts claimed that an easy way for consumers to identify Israeli products was to look at the barcode, which for products made in Israel starts with the numbers 729:

Some social media users said to pay attention to the barcode and ignore other text on the products, claiming that Israeli companies were attempting to deceive consumers by saying Israeli products were from elsewhere. In one example, X users said that while a box said it contained dates from South Africa, the barcode showed they were actually from Israel:

In early 2024, people claimed that in order to avoid boycotts, Israel had changed its barcode digits to 841 or 871:

While the first three digits of a barcode are attached to a country, they do not indicate where the products come from or where they are made. Also, our research indicates that Israel has not changed its barcode prefix to either of those numbers, which are used by other countries. For these reasons, we have rated the claim as "False."

Our 2008 article on this topic pointed out that first three numbers of a barcode show where a company is based. For example, it possible for a company in Israel to sell dates grown in South Africa. The reverse is also possible: A South African company (country codes 600-601) can sell products from Israel. Find the full list of country barcode prefixes here. GS1, the international organization that assigns barcodes to products worldwide, explains this clearly on its website:

GS1 Company Prefixes are based on the GS1 Prefixes below. Since GS1 user companies can manufacture products anywhere in the world, GS1 Prefixes do not identify the country of origin for a given product.

(To complicate matters, the United States and Canada use a different barcode system — UPC-A — from the rest of the world, which uses the IAN, formerly known as EAN, standard.)

The second thing to note is that the numbers with which activists claim Israel has replaced its country barcode are taken by other countries. Spain has all prefixes from 840 to 849, while the Netherlands has all prefixes that start with 87. Agence France-Presse debunked this claim in 2021.


Asiedu, Kwasi Gyamfi. 'No, Israel Has Not Changed Its Bar Code'. @politifact, https://www.politifact.com/factchecks/2023/nov/21/tiktok-posts/no-israel-has-not-changed-its-barcode/. Accessed 31 May 2024.

GS1 Company Prefix | GS1. https://www.gs1.org/standards/id-keys/company-prefix. Accessed 31 May 2024.

'Has Israel Changed the Barcode Number on Its Products Due to Boycotts?' Euronews, 11 Jan. 2024, https://www.euronews.com/my-europe/2024/01/11/has-israel-changed-the-barcode-number-on-its-products-due-to-boycotts.

'Social Media Posts Share Misleading Claim That Barcode Prefixes Can Show If a Product Is Made in Israel'. Fact Check, 2 June 2021, https://factcheck.afp.com/social-media-posts-share-misleading-claim-barcode-prefixes-can-show-if-product-made-israel.

'The Basics of UPC Codes'. US Barcode Authority GS1 UPC, https://www.barcode-us.info/upc-codes/. Accessed 31 May 2024.