(April 2, 2:50 p.m.) Although GS1 recently announced its decision to extend its implementation date for the GS1 DataBar in some countries, the U.S. is still on track for Jan. 1.

The recent announcement caused confusion in the marketplace, said Jon Mellor, director of external affairs for GS1 US, Lawrenceville, N.J., the U.S. arm of the global GS1 organization, based in Brussels, Belgium.

“The original date was a global date, but we recently decided that some countries are not adopting as quickly as other countries, so the global organization decided to provide some flexibility in the different countries,” Mellor said.

GS1 oversees standards for DataBar labels, which are affixed to individual fruits and vegetables. They contain more information than a Price Look-up or Universal Product Code, including grower, field, case configuration information, expiration date and recall information, should there be one.

A voluntary industry adoption timeline is set for Jan. 1 in the U.S. Companies have already been phasing this in, and DataBars are included on many produce labels and almost all coupons.

“It’s not a mandate, but it’s a cross-industry initiative,” Mellor said. “Any scanner you buy now can read it."

GS1 is also the designer of the Global Trade Identification Number, the code being used in the Produce Traceability Initiative’s program to enhance traceability.

Although the DataBar will store the GTIN number, the DataBar is not required or part of the traceability initiative’s plan.

“There’s been some real confusion about this,” said Gary Fleming, vice president of industry technology and standards for the Produce Marketing Association, Newark, Del. PMA joined United Fresh Produce Association, Washington D.C., and the Canadian Produce Marketing Association, Ottawa, on the traceability initiative.

“The DataBar (implementation date) has nothing to do with produce, everything to do with coupons,” Fleming said. “The nice thing with produce, though, is if retailers have the system ready when produce companies put the DataBar labels on, they’ll be able to read them.”