What Do Those Codes On Stickers Of Fruits And Some Veggies Mean?

Although they seem like a nuisance, the stickers or labels attached to fruit and some vegetables have more of a function than helping scan the price at the checkout stand. The PLU code, or price lookup number printed on the sticker, also tells you how the fruit was grown. By reading the PLU code, you can tell if the fruit was genetically modified, organically grown or produced with chemical fertilizers, fungicides, or herbicides.

Here are the basics of what you should know:

  1. If there are only four numbers in the PLU, this means that the produce was grown conventionally or “traditionally” with the use of pesticides. The last four letters of the PLU code are simply what kind of vegetable or fruit. An example is that all bananas are labeled with the code of 4011.
  2. If there are five numbers in the PLU code, and the number starts with “8”, this tells you that the item is a genetically modified fruit or vegetable. Genetically modified fruits and vegetables trump being organic. So, it is impossible to eat organic produce that are grown from genetically modified seeds. A genetically engineered (GE or GMO) banana would be: 84011
  3. If there are five numbers in the PLU code, and the number starts with “9”, this tells you that the produce was grown organically and is not genetically modified. An organic banana would be: 94011

Incidentally, the adhesive used to attach the stickers is considered food-grade, but the stickers themselves aren’t edible.

And here is the full list from the Environmental Working Groups of fruits and vegetables with the least to most pesticides. When shopping, the most important produce to buy organic are those at the bottom of this list http://www.foodnews.org/fulllist.php .

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  • http://www.icareservicecenter.com/ Jeba Sheela

    Cheers! You have really allured me; I have no words to explain my feelings about your post.

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  • Sammy Jackson

    The biggest joke of all is the fact that growing with pesticides is classed as traditional. Organic non gmo should be the only way. If all companies had to stick to this standard then the prices would be lower and everyone would be much healthier. The world is full of idiots who want to take shortcuts at the detriment to other people and food manufacturers can be the worst culprits of the lot. When profit becomes more important then contribution to the world then you will always have a problem. Using pesticides means you a poisoning people so how it is justified is beyond me

  • DJ

    ELD on a yellow pepper……..what does that mean?

  • DJ

    Is a four digit number starting with 3 an inferior product? It is always the cheapest.

  • bible thumper

    We need to put big ag out of business by supporting organic and local farmers…We can do it…yes we can. And the FDA can go hang.