Judah St. Clinic

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What does the number on a fruit sticker mean?

Dr. Nick Wirtz

7 out of 10 items in grocery store shelves contain ingredients that have been genetically modified. Fruit and vegetables do not come with nutrition labels but they do have stickers (PLU – Price Look Up Code) which contain pertinent information.

Next time you decide to purchase that apple or cut a slice out of that melon, consider the PLU sticker. This sticker will tell you whether the fruit was organically grown, genetically modified, or produced with chemical fertilizers, herbicides or fungicides.

PLU stickers that have 4 digits and begin with a “3″ or “4″: produce is conventionally grown. This means that this produce was sprayed with weed killers and chemical pesticides.

PLU stickers that have 5-digits and start with “8″: produce was genetically engineered (man intervened by manipulating the genes to produce a larger or brighter colored food). This produce may have been chemically treated.

PLU stickers that have 5-digits and start with “9″: produce was raised organically. You can be sure that this produce was not treated with any chemicals.

If you see other variations of code on your produce, you can refer to the following website and look up the PLU code as well as other information regarding this topic: http://www.fruitsticker.com.

Note: the adhesive used to stick the PLU onto the fruit is edible but the sticker itself is not.

Having some origin coding would be great for seeing how far a particular fruit/vegetable traveled but that is something still hidden in our giant supermarkets.

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Price Look-Up codes, commonly called PLU codes, PLU numbers or PLUs, are identification numbers affixed to produce and other products in grocery stores and supermarkets to make check-out and inventory control easier, faster, and more accurate.

The code is a four or five-digit number, identifying the type of bulk produce, usually including the variety.

Organic produce is denoted by a five-digit number whose first digit is 9 (e.g. 94011 for organic yellow bananas); an 8 prefix indicates genetically modified food.

The codes have been in use since 1990. Currently, there are over 1300 universal PLU codes assigned.

Use of PLU codes eliminates the need for grocery store checkers to identify each variety of produce visually. This advantage is especially important with the growth of the organic produce market; organic and conventional oranges, for example, may look the same but have very different prices.

The system is administered by the International Federation for Produce Standards, an affiliate of the Produce Marketing Association.

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Price look-up codes are generally printed on small stickers or tags.

They can tell if your fruit is conventional, organic or Genetically Modified.

Those PLU code stickers that you have to peel off your fruit and vegetables do more than just convey prices to the cashier. If you know how to read them, says Marion Owen at PlanTea.com, they can tell you a thing or two.

Conventional produce gets a four-digit number.

Organic produce gets a five-digit number that starts with 9.

Genetically modified items also get a five-digit code, but that code starts with 8.

Examples
4139: Conventional Granny Smith apple
94139: Organic Granny Smith
84139: Genetically Modified Granny Smith

From http://www.seriouseats.com/…

http://www.plantea.com/gene…

and All PLU codes http://plucodes.com/search_…

Here is the PLU of a Gala Apple I am eating.

APPLES (4173)Variety: Royal Gala
Variety Info:
Type: Global
Category: FR
North American Size: 100 size and smaller
Rest of World Size: AFW = less than 205g

“4401″: A four-digit code indicates conventionally grown items, here white-fleshed peaches.