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GS1 standards recommended for supply chain traceability by EC group

22/01/14 - With new consumer safety regulations due soon, an expert group set up by the European Commission (EC) has recommended the adoption of GS1 standards as best practice for addressing supply chain traceability needs.

The Product Traceability Expert Group was set up in 2011 by the EC to address concerns about the traceability of dangerous products in the context of RAPEX (the EU Rapid Alert System for non-food dangerous products). The group focused on identifying best practices to help industry meet the likely requirements of the future EU regulation for the safety of non-food products such as clothing, textile and fashion items, childcare articles, kitchen accessories and furniture.

Adoption of traceability standards was just one of several recommendations highlighted in a report released by the group following two years of industry-wide dialogue. These recommendations focus on benefits for businesses, consumers and market surveillance authorities with the common goal of protecting public safety and health.

GS1 was invited to participate in the expert group and was awarded a contract to provide neutral research and facilitate the group’s work. The group’s report outlined the following recommendations: 

  • For economic operators (businesses), the group recommends labeling consumer products with product identification codes and automating traceability systems using global standards such as ISO and GS1 standards

  • For market surveillance and other authorities, the group recommends including the use of barcodes in training, conducting traceability assessments in cooperation with private actors, and developing best practices to collect information about dangerous products when they cross EU borders

  • For consumers, the group suggests raising more awareness on the importance of product identification and helping consumers alert authorities about suspicious or potentially dangerous products

Gary Lynch, CEO at GS1 UK: “Due to increased consumer awareness, businesses have become very alert to the growing requirement for all involved in the manufacture, supply and distribution of products to improve visibility across all their trading relationships. The technology exists today – built on GS1 global standards – to help industry achieve this, and we are very pleased that our standards have been recognised by this group to address the important issue of traceability.”

Aside from GS1, members of the group included EU market surveillance authorities as well as representatives from manufacturing, retail, industry, consumer and advisory organisations including the European Traceability Institute, the French Federation of Retail and Trade, Altroconsumo, and others.

To view the Product Traceability Expert Group’s full report, visit


Notes to Editors

About GS1 UK

For further information or requests for interviews, please contact Tim Haidar: 020 7092 3584 /

For more than 35 years GS1 UK has been working with its members to enable the efficient movement of goods and sharing of information. It drives supply chain efficiency alongside 111 other not-for-profit GS1 member organisations in 150 countries worldwide. 

Having introduced the first truly global bar code numbering system in 1973, at least five billion GS1-compliant bar codes are now scanned everyday – making it the most widely used supply chain standards system in the world. GS1 identification numbers are now also commonly used in RFID tags, Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) messages and for real-time global data exchange.

Providing independent support, GS1’s team of technical and business consultants also assist members with on-site implementation of appropriate supply chain information solutions.

Its 26,000+ UK members range from SMEs to major UK companies and include grocery retailers and Foodservice companies, food manufacturers, healthcare and pharmaceuticals companies, and NHS Trusts. Its supervisory board includes senior directors from Tesco, Morrisons and Sainsbury’s, as well as Unilever, P&G, Diageo and the NHS.

GS1 UK actively supports The Food Chain – a UK charity set up to ensure that people living with HIV can access the nutrition they need to lead healthy, independent lives. For more information, visit