New technology developed in Japan is enabling shoppers to glean information on food by aiming their camphones at invisible-to-the-eye-barcodes hidden in the packaging art.

So far, Dole has come out with coded broccoli, while tea merchant Nihon-Seicha Co. is marketing a green tea dubbed Traceabili-tea. Shoppers can instantly view traceability facts and other information by snapping packaging that contains hidden 2D barcodes or QR barcodes as they are known. QR tags are capable of storing much more information than regular barcodes.

The technology, developed by Fujitsu Laboratories, allows for embedding data – such as ID codes to convert URLs or telephone numbers – into colour images for magazines or advertisements without interfering with the printed design.

Customers can then quickly access a website displaying data on the name of the producer, the type of fertiliser and in the case of the broccoli even recipe ideas.