FreshCode FAQ

What is FreshCode?

FreshCode™ is the brand name of Varcode’s “smart barcode” cold chain solution. The FreshCode recorder is a patented device that measures time-temperature history and records temperature exception events along the cold chain. Recorders are manufactured for specific temperature sensitive products and cold chain requirements; such as fresh produce, meat, frozen foods or vaccines. Sold at a fraction of the cost of devices used today, a recorder can be applied from pallet level down to the individual saleable unit.  FreshCode recorders are readable by a standard barcode reader and the vast majority of smartphones – devices already in place in your organization! The data is permanently stored in the cloud, where it is accessed via the FCMS™ reporting and management system.

FreshCode is a comprehensive, low-cost and highly effective solution for your cold chain monitoring requirements.

How does the FreshCode recorder work?

Inside a FreshCode recorder is a proprietary material that has been created by Varcode to freeze and melt at specific temperatures. If the temperature of the material rises above the key threshold temperature, it will begin to diffuse through the substrate inside the recorder and begin to change the scannable barcode at a precise rate. If the recorder remains cold or if it cools back down after being above the threshold, the barcode will not change or will stop changing. In this way, the recorder accurately measures the cumulative temperature breach, and the accompanying apps and cloud system are able to provide clear, situation-specific instructions and alerts, as well as permanent records required for compliance.

FreshCode recorders are delivered in an inactive state.  Activation is accomplished by pulling a tab when cold chain monitoring is ready to begin.

Is the FreshCode solution unique and proprietary?

Yes and yes.

Varcode’s FreshCode solution is the only cold chain monitoring system that leverages barcode technology, the cloud, and the ubiquity of readers and smartphones throughout the world. The result is a solution that can be deployed at a significantly lower cost and down to the box level – when compared to a data logger or other solutions.

FreshCode and FCMS are currently protected by 25+ patents and additional patents pending around the world (and growing!). 

How does FreshCode differ from other existing cold chain solutions?

Two features of the solution highlight how FreshCode is different:

First, the FreshCode recorder has no electronics and is significantly less costly than data loggers, which makes tracking down to the individual carton possible. So our customers are able to have end-to-end temperature monitoring, even when pallets are broken up for distribution to multiple locations.

Second, since it’s based on barcode technology, FreshCode is easy to deploy. It can be read by existing scanning devices and rolled out with very little training. Without buying lots of IT equipment or requiring extensive training, FreshCode is easy to implement internally and at supply chain partners.

How does FreshCode support my company’s HACCP plan?

The FreshCode solution can be integrated into nearly any HACCP plan as an easy-to-use, effective and low-cost tool to monitor temperature-related critical control points. FreshCode is an ideal tool for the following reasons:

  • Accurate: Measures time-temperature control points and identifies breach and severity of breach.
  • Easy-to-Implement: Requires no new equipment. Can be quickly deployed to suppliers and partners.
  • Easy-to-Use: Minimal training and able to follow protocol.
  • Flexible: Times, temperatures, actions, alerts configurable to your cold chain requirements
  • Documented: Maintains permanent records of time-temperature status and history of every marked product/pallet/shipment.
  • Compliant: Records and confirms HACCP plan defined monitoring takes place.

What temperatures and time spans can FreshCode monitor?

The FreshCode technology can monitor a wide range of temperatures and time spans. Temperatures from -18°C to 30°C (0°F to 90°F) can be monitored and validated by FreshCode. Recorders can reflect alert/status time intervals of 15 minutes to 48 hours of cumulative temperature breach. 

Can FreshCode recorders be customized?

Yes. FreshCode recorders can be configured and manufactured by Varcode to meet a customer’s specific requirements. Varcode is able to manufacture recorder models that vary by:

  • Temperature – from -18°C to 30°C (0°F to 90°F).
  • Time – time intervals from 15 minutes to 48 hours of cumulative temperature breach.
  • Number of time intervals – up to 6 statuses, each representing a successive amount of measured temperature breach.
  • Recorder design – Portions of the recorder’s top layer be designed with customer logos, color schemes and other graphics/text to enhance the identification, communication or branding for your cold chain..

How long will a FreshCode recorder run?

Once activated, a FreshCode recorder will continue monitoring temperature for up to 3 years – assuming no temperature breach. However once the recorder has been exposed to temperature above its configured threshold, it will begin measuring the cumulative temperature breach. The measurement of temperature breach is cumulative. (EXAMPLE:  If a FreshCode FROZEN recorder is activated in a deep freezer at -20°C, it will continue monitoring and working indefinitely. If the recorder is taken out of the freezer, it will begin recording the temperature breach.  Whether the breach occurred 4 times, for an hour each during a two week period, or if the breach occurred for 4 consecutive hours, it will reflect a cumulative 4 hours of breach).

What do I need to be able to read the FreshCode recorder?

Nearly any barcode scanning device is able to read a FreshCode recorder and support the user with immediate feedback and instruction. All iOS and Android smartphones manufactured in the past 5 years are able to scan FreshCode via free, downloadable apps. Companies can also use their installed base of PCs with scanners or warehouse scanning devices (such as the xxxxxx).  There is no need to purchase new equipment, nor to have a drawer full of unique adaptors or connectors to try and download the data.

How do you activate a FreshCode recorder?

FreshCode recorders come in an inactive state, visible by the presence of the green START tab in the recorder. To activate the recorder and begin monitoring, simply remove the green tab.

What is the accuracy of the FreshCode recorder?

Accuracy and reliability of the recorded information are proven through numerous tests in various environments.
FreshCode label performance has been tested against the performance of electronic data recorders and were found to measure temperature equally effectively, but at a fraction of the price.

How does Varcode manufacture FreshCode?

Varcode has developed a world-class manufacturing technology to make the FreshCode recorders with high quality and accuracy. Manufacturing is currently only at Varcode headquarters, however the manufacturing technology can easily be replicated in other geographies.  As we grow we anticipate manufacturing in locations across the globe.

Are FreshCode recorders safe?

Yes. The materials used to make FreshCode recorders have been certified to be food-safe.