Here’s what those sticker codes on fruits and vegetables mean


March 1, 2016 – The first thing we learn is that the fruit labels actually edible! They need to be removed? Yes of course! But if you happen to accidentally eat some, not a big deal. They are made from edible “paper”!

The stickers found on fruits and vegetables at markets contain 4-5 digit numbers known as Price Look-Up (PLU) codes.

These codes have been around since 1990 and are used by stores to identify bulk produce (and related items such as nuts and herbs). They help to distinguish between conventionally-grown, genetically-modified (GMO) and organic products.

This system is administered by the International Federation for Produce Standards, an affiliate of the Produce Marketing Association. There are currently over 1400 PLU codes issued.

PLU codes make the check-out and inventory control processes easier and more accurate by eliminating the need for the cashiers to identify the product on their own. It takes the guesswork out of whether or not each item is conventionally or organically grown and ensures that consumers pay the accurate price.

Be a stickler and know what you are consuming. Here is what you need to know about those pesky PLU code stickers on fruits, veggies, nuts and herbs.

Below is a guide that will teach you the significance behind the labels found on the produce you are buying.


What the codes mean

If on the label are 4-digit numbers that start with 3 or 4 it means that the fruit produced in the second half of the 20th century and that it is likely that for his growing used artificial fertilizers.

5-digit PLU code starting with 9 (9xxxx) = organically-grown

New changes, 5-digit PLU code starting with 8 (8xxxx) = the ‘8’ prefix (83000–84999) was once reserved for GMO produce items, the prefix was never used at retail. Stripping the prefix of this particular designation will yield 1,000 additional PLU numbers to be used in future years. This will not in any way impact the current use of the ‘9’ prefix (93000–94999), which will continue to be used to indicate organic produce items.

If the first number of a five digit code starts with a 8 that means the fruit or vegitable has been geneticly modified.
If the first number of a five diget code starts with a 9 that means it was grown Organic.

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