Those Tiny Stickers on Produce – Who Knew?

I recently discovered that those tiny stickers with numbers stuck on fresh produce sold in grocery stores actually mean something.  There’s a whole coding system in place internationally.  It’s called the PLU or Price Look-Up system.  Here’s how it works.  Each type of fruit and vegetable, nut and herb has a unique PLU identification code, which is the last four numbers on each sticker.  Guavas, for example, are #4299, large lemons #4053, oregano #4897, brazilnuts #4926, broccoli #4060 and beefsteak tomatoes #3061.

Here’s where it gets really interesting, and useful.  You can tell if a piece of produce has been genetically modified because the sticker attached will have a five-number PLU code that starts with the number “8.”   The sticker on a genetically modified guava, for example, will be marked 84299.   When you see a five number PLU code starting with the number “9” the produce has been grown organically and has not been genetically modified.  A head of broccoli marked 94060 has been grown organically.   You’ll know that pesticides have been used if you see a piece of  produce marked with only 4 numbers.

Quick Summary:

Genetically Modified:      8 + five numbers
Organic:                        9 + five numbers
Pesticides Used:             only 4 numbers

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