Decoding Produce Stickers

You know those little stickers on fruits and veggies? The ones that are annoying to remove, especially on apples!

These stickers are called price look-up (PLU) codes and they contain numbers that cashiers use to ring you up. BUT…. they tell you so much information about what the product is and if it’s organic or not!  Pay attention to the information below, which will help you figure out these stickers!

Here’s what to look for:

  •  A five-digit number that starts with a 9 means the item is organic.
  •  A four-digit code beginning with a 3 or a 4 means the produce is probably conventionally grown with pesticide usage.  For example, regular small lemons sold in the U.S. are labeled 4033, large are 4053; small organic lemons are coded 94033, large are 94053.
  • A five-digit code that starts with an 8 means the item is genetically modified (it has genes from other organisms). You won’t see many of those because only genetically modified versions of corn, soybeans, canola, cotton, papaya, and squash are now widely sold. And because PLU codes aren’t mandatory, companies can label those items as conventional. The problem is that although an estimated 60 to 70 percent of food items sold, including packaged goods, have genetically modified ingredients, little is known about the long-term effects of consuming them, and concerns have been raised about an increase in allergies and other health issues. For more info, visit the Non-GMO Shopping Guide website.

You can do your own searches very easily by using this website from Produce Marketing Association (PMA).  You can search by PLU code, category or both.  produce label

 

 

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