Most fruit and vegetables that you purchase in a grocery store, will come with a sticker attached to it. The sticker usually contains the brand name, origin, a PLU code, barcode, and the name of the product.
The web nowadays is awash with fake and/or false claims about PLU stickers. That is why we need to show you a few important things that people often ask themselves:
- The produce stickers are NOT biodegradable and must be removed before you cook or eat the fruit,
- PLU stickers are NOT “edible” – it won’t kill you, but can scratch inside your intestines, therefore we advise against eating it,
- PLU stickers are the supply chain identifiers – like an I.D card that will remind the producers and supermarkets of the optimal end of life,
- The fruit and veggie industry can do better considering its plastic and cannot easely be recycled.
Here are a few other interesting facts about those stickers
- The stickers on fruits and vegetables are called a PLU, which stands for Price Look Up. They have been in use since the 1900’s to make check-out and inventory control easier for grocery stores.
- The fruit stickers are attached with FDA approved food grade glue.
- All produce uses the same PLU codes. There are a total of 1421 PLU codes.
- All fruit & vegetable labels come with a 4-5 digit PLU code.
- Conventionally Grown Produce use a four digit number that begins with a 3 or 4. A banana for example would be #4011. You might also see these numbers with a zero in front, however zero is usually omitted. Conventionally, grown produce means that the produce was sprayed with pesticides, chemical fertilizers, or weed spray.
- Genetically Modified Produce use a five digit number. It is the same number as above, but the # 8 is attached to the front. A banana for example would be #84011. Genetically modified produce (GMO) means the plant or seed has been genetically manipulated or genetically engineered to make the fruit larger, prettier, juicier, or to make it grow faster. This is the worst type of produce to consume. “8 means it is FAKE”.
- Organic Produce use a five digit number. It is the same number as the congenitally grown produce, but the # 9 is attached to the front. A banana for example would be #94011. Organic produce is the safest type of produce to consume as it was not sprayed with pesticides nor was it genetically modified. “9 is FINE”.
- PLU codes are not regulated by a government agency and are therefore voluntary. However, most grocery stores require them from the farmers. This is why you see them on some, but not all produce items.
- The barcode you see on the produce labels are called a DataBar, which is a smaller version of a UPC code. It is a code specific to the manufacture, and it not in most grocery store databases. That is why cashiers still type in the PLU #.
You can also directly search your favorite fruit PLU here.
Remember… 8 is FAKE, and 9 is FINE! For more information on PLU codes visit www.plucodes.com/docs/Users_Guide.pdf.