Counterfeit protection is an important issue. Foodstuffs, medications and tobacco products are typical examples where protection against counterfeiting is significant from a health or financial perspective. Is it the real product, or has the original product been tampered with or replaced with a fake? We need answers to these questions to prevent health risks, protect brands and avoid potential financial losses.
Using GS1 standards and identifiers for counterfeit protection
As well as the unique GTIN identifier, each individual product unit is given a serial number. The combination of GTIN and serial number, represented in a suitable GS1 data carrier, makes the product uniquely identifiable worldwide.
The product may be labelled with the GS1 DataBar or GS1 DataMatrix or by means of EPC/RFID technology. The choice of data carrier depends on the reading technology used in the specific supply chain, the costs of the relevant printing process and official requirements and agreements.
Advantages and benefits of the GS1 system
These identifiers and labels – the combination of serial number and GTIN – allow the manufacturer or brand owner to verify the authenticity of the products at any point. This protects individual packages of products better against counterfeiting over the whole life cycle.
If EPC/RFID is used as the data carrier the authentication process can be triggered automatically. Ideally, the databases behind this will be compatible with the Electronic Product Code Information Services (EPCIS) specifications. This will make products traceable over the entire supply chain.
In healthcare, products are mainly labelled using the two dimensional barcode, GS1 DataMatrix.