It is very common for manufacturers of a variety of goods to use QR codes as an apparent way to prove that product’s originality. Consumers are always keen to know that their products are not being tampered with. And in the case of something like food, it is even a matter of public health that this is so. But, despite their ubiquitous nature, QR codes do not actually provide the protection you might hope for as a consumer – and nor do they guarantee originality.
Let’s look at why this is, and what alternative solutions there might be out there, that both businesses and individuals should be aware of going forwards.
The QR Code Promise
QR codes are used in the food industry to try and display that a product is original and has not been tampered with. The idea is that, if the code can be successfully scanned, it will show where it has been and in what hands, thus helping to prove that the product is what it should be.
This is the promise that the QR code is meant to give out. But is it actually true that such codes achieve this level of security and protection?
The Problem With QR Codes
In fact, there is a major way in which the use of QR codes fails the consumer. That is the fact that they are easy to reproduce. In fact, a fraudster looking to replace items with fraudulent alternatives would only need to expend a minimal amount more money in order to create the appropriate fake QR code for any given food product. With this being so inexpensive and simple to do, there is no guarantee that a QR code is actually protecting the product (or the consumer) at all.
The Reliable Alternative
With QR codes therefore being such an unreliable solution for guaranteeing the originality of a product, what is the alternative? Well actually, there is one clear winner here in the search for a solution. QR code food labels are steadily being superseded by the use of NFC labels combined with blockchain technology.
The secret to why this is so much better is this: here you have a solution that provides both physical security and digital security. It is not simply enough to replicate a tag (which is expensive and troublesome to do), a fraudster would also need to edit the decentralised ledger of the blockchain (which is all but impossible). With this tech, you can easily see where a product has been and what steps it has gone through, thereby helping to ensure the security and originality of that product every time.
As you can see, NFC tags and blockchain technology are hugely important, and in many ways they are the future of product guarantees. You can expect food manufacturers and others to be using these technological solutions increasingly as an alternative to the code deception of QR code food labels. This is better for the consumer themselves, but also for the companies operating.