How to Read Produce Labels
Did you know those little stickers we find on fruits and veggies actually means more than how much the item costs? Those little stickers, also known as the PLU or Price Look Up number, tells us so much more about the product — very important information about the product! Those little stickers give us information about how the item was grown; conventionally, organically, or genetically modified. In addition they can indicate the size of the item as well as where it was grown.
If the sticker has 4 digits and starts with a 3 or 4, it means that the item was grown “traditionally” and has NOT been genetically modified. It may however have been exposed to chemical pesticides or synthetic fertilizers.
If the sticker has 5 digits and starts with an 8, it means that the item has been genetically modified. This means the item has been grown WITH the use of genetically modified organisms.
If the sticker has 5 digits and starts with a 9, it means the item is Organic and has NOT been genetically modified. It also has NOT been exposed to prohibited pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, irradiation, or sewage sludge (YUCK!).
Unfortunately, the government does not require the labeling of genetically modified produce — so you will likely not see any stickers beginning with an “8”. I mean really, who would buy produce marked with an “8” if they knew what it meant? In addition, PLU stickers are not meant for the consumer, and are optional for convenience of the stores and suppliers — so you may find some produce with no little stickers at all.
If you have a PLU and want more information about your produce you can check out the Produce Marketing Associations website and search your PLU code.