Ever wonder what the codes on the stickers on your fruit and veggie labels mean? Most of us can’t wait to remove the stickers after we get the produce home. But those codes are actually a very integral part of improving efficiency in our food supply. The numbers on these labels are called PLU codes (Price Look-Up Number). These codes are standardized for every grocery store by the International Federation for Produce Standards. Conventionally grown fruits and veggies have a 4-digit number and they usually begin with a 3 or 4. If you are trying to avoid Genetically Modified produce (GMO’s), then you’ll want to avoid the GMO codes….they all have 5 digits and begin with an 8. Organically grown produce has 5 digits and begins with a 9.
For example, a banana would have the following breakdown:
1. Conventionally Grown Banana–PLU code is 4011
2. Genetically Modified Banana–PLU code is 84011
3. Organic Banana–PLU code is 94011
According to the official PLU website (www.plucodes.com), ” The International Federation for Produce Coding (IFPC), the newly incorporated IFPS is a coalition of fruit and vegetable associations from around the globe that joined together in 2001 as equal partners to pursue the task of introducing a global standard for the use of international Price Look-Up (PLU) numbers. The group’s work is coordinated by the Produce Marketing Association, and the federation’s founding members are based in North America, South America, Europe/Africa, and Asia/Pacific. The long-term objective of the federation is to improve the supply chain efficiency of the fresh produce industry through developing, implementing and managing harmonized international standards.”
So, the next time that you are in the produce section, you will be able to know exactly how your produce was grown, whether it was conventionally, genetically modified, or organically grown.
Integrative Nutrition: Feed Your Hunger for Health and Happiness by Joshua Rosenthal