Why you should care about the meaning of stickers on fruits sold at grocery stores

By on December 14, 2017

Stickers with numbers found on most fruits and vegetables are not just store codes.

Most produce in Japan and worldwide contain PLU  (Price Look Up) codes  and at times, come with a bar code for scanning.

You should care about PLU code because it tells you whether the fruits or vegetables were organically farmed or genetically modified or produced with chemical fertilizers, fungicides, or herbicides.

Here’s how to understand the PLU codes.

Four numbers

If there are only four numbers in the PLU, this means that the produce was grown conventionally using pesticides. The last four letters (or only four, in this case) of the PLU code are simply what kind of vegetable or fruit you’re buying. An example is that all bananas are labeled with the code of 4011.

Five numbers starting with 8

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. This means an unnatural process or way has been used to artificially produce the fruit or vegetable.   A genetically engineered (GE or GMO) banana would be: 84011

Five numbers starting with 9

If there are five numbers in the PLU code, and the number starts with a ‘9’, this means the produce was grown organically and is not genetically modified. An organic banana would be 94011

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