FDA rolls out QR code-based regulations for food security and authentication

Last updated:   June 20, 2022

QR code technology is a smart solution for food manufacturing companies and brands to ensure compliance with Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) regulations, and promote food transparency by using QR codes on food labels. 

To protect consumers' health and ensure fair practices in the food trade, food traceability, and transparency, QR code utilization took a massive hit in the food manufacturing industry. 

Brands are also becoming forerunners of these initiatives to uplift the confidence of consumers when it comes to the safety and quality of the food supply.

Moreover, consumer confidence depends in part on their perception as to the effectiveness of these systems as food control measures.

A vital part of the worldwide food trade depends on food labels and the use of inspection and certification systems.

With that being said, QR code technology gives a solution to brands and companies to ensure an optimal measure of food transparency consistent with consumer protection and facilitation of trade.

What are QR codes 

QR code, also known as ‘Quick Response’ code is a two-dimensional barcode that can store information/URL/data.

QR codes house large data files and it uses four standardized encoding modes (numeric, alphanumeric, byte/binary, and kanji).

To access the information embedded in a QR code, a person has to scan it using a smartphone camera or a QR code reader app. 

Because of the fast readability and storage capacity of the QR code, it is predominantly used by food industries in compliance with food regulatory measures.

You can generate or create a QR code using QR code generator software. It allows you to customize your QR code by adding a logo, colors, and icon. 

For example, if you want to illustrate and embed a list of ingredients included in a particular food item, you can convert the document into a PDF QR code. 

When the consumer scans the code using a smartphone, he can access and save the PDF document instantly. 

It adds a digital element to ordinary food packaging while ensuring that consumers have access to important nutritional information.

Why do you need to use QR codes for food traceability and transparency?

Radical transparency or also known as the clean label trend has become a core to various food brand initiatives. 

Consumers expect a simpler and honest packaging and ingredients list from the food & beverage and Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) companies.

A Label Insight study found that 94% of consumers say that food transparency from brands is important and impacts their purchase. 

Regulations like the GMO labeling bill in the US also require food companies to disclose GMO ingredients via a QR code on the package.

The food industry is listening to this fact, and it takes an “open kitchen approach’’ to communicate to consumers. 

More brands tap into the wealth of technological advances. They used technology such as QR codes to convey the ingredients of their product to their consumers.

It ensures that consumers can make informed decisions in their purchasing journey.

QR code technology comes in as part of this initiative. It is easy to incorporate into food packaging and can store large information.

It makes food packaging more engaging and digital as consumers can access more food information and valuable content.

Related: How to use QR codes on Food packaging?

FDA QR code: QR codes and FDA regulations 

The Food and Drug Administration has launched several initiatives to bring about farm-to-table traceability and transparency, and in expediting the verification process of export certificates.

FDA pushes approaches to adopt and leverage more digital and tech-enabled systems in keeping with its effort to promote consumer safety.

For instance, FDA launches a new portal to expedite the verification of export certificates using QR codes. 

Before implementing this streamlined procedure, the approach back then requires a stakeholder to create an account, contact FDA to activate the account, and log in to verify the authenticity of certificates. 

Each certificate contains a unique QR code to allow easier authentication.

Anyone who receives a certificate from a U.S. exporter can scan the QR code on the packaging and see a copy of the certificate as issued by the FDA. 

Related: How do QR codes prevent counterfeit in drug packaging?

QR code solutions for food packaging labels 

QR codes come in a variety of solutions that food and product managers can use.

However, there are 3 main solutions for using QR codes on food packaging and labels that will redirect users to online information about the item. 

PDF QR code 

Generating a PDF QR code redirects customers to the information about the food item when scanned using a smartphone device. 

These codes can be printed on your food labels. To make it easy for consumers to access the details about the product, make sure you print the QR codes on a flat surface where the image will not get crumpled. 

You can also use a PDF QR code for certificates and other verification documents. 

H5 QR code editor

If you don’t have a website about your products, the H5 editor QR code is a great alternative to launch your products. 

H5 QR code solution creates an online landing page without having to buy a hosting or domain name.

You can place all the details about your food items using an H5 editor including URLs, images, videos, and customize it using web designing elements.

You can also switch to the code view setting if you are planning to add a mini-program.  

Bulk URL QR code 

If you have a database for your food products available online or on a website, you can generate a bulk URL QR code for your products that will redirect scanners to the information.

Using a bulk URL QR code, you do not need to generate an individual URL QR code, instead, you can have hundreds of URLs generated in one go! 

How to create a QR code 

  • Go to www.qrcode-tiger.com 
  • Select the type of QR code you need for your content 
  • Enter the corresponding details 
  • Switch from static to dynamic QR code to edit and track your QR code 
  • Customize your QR code  
  • Scan test and check for errors 
  • Download the QR code  

Editing and tracking your QR code on food labels using dynamic QR codes

Dynamic QR code solutions such as Word, PDF, and Bulk URL QR codes even when printed in food items can be edited in their content making them a flexible and economically wise tool in business and marketing. 

You do not worry about having it printed on food labels as it allows you to correct for mistakes and edit the landing page to another content if necessary. 

Editing the content of the QR code printed on food labels 

To edit your PDF and word file QR code in case of mistakes, just click on the QR code tracking data, go to your campaign, and click on the edit data button and replace the file. 

Related: How to Edit a QR Code in 9 Quick Steps?

Tracking your QR code scans on food labels 

Users can also track the scans of their QR codes printed on their food labels and products.

Such as the demographics of the scanners, the device they are using to scan the QR code printed in food packaging number of scans they get in a day/week/or years.

Users can also download the CSV file of their QR code data. 

This enables the users to understand and analyze their QR code campaign. 

Related: How to set up QR code tracking in real-time: A step-by-step guide

Advancing food transparency with QR code-enabled packaging and food labels

QR code technology is an integral tech tool to ensure compliance with FDA food regulations.

It is used to enhance food transparency and promote brand integrity among discerning consumers.

QR code is scalable and a cost-effective way for food companies of all sizes to push their initiatives toward a sustainable future.

If you have questions about QR codes and their various solutions for digitized food packaging and labels, feel free to contact us here.

Related terms

Food QR code labeling system 

Various food products and brands such as Nestle have printed QR codes on their product labels to give value-added information to their consumers about their products.

They can access the information encoded in the QR code by scanning the QR  using smartphone devices.

QR codes on food labels have been popular among the food manufacturing industry by providing information transparency to their buyers and building trust and confidence among consumers. 

Related: Great use cases of QR codes on food and beverage packaging

brands using qr codes