WHAT DO STICKERS ON FRUITS AND VEGETABLES MEAN?When you purchase a fresh produce from a retail store, you’ll see a sticker containing a four- or five-digit number. This number is called the (PLU) Price Look Up code. Most people peel the sticker off, throw it away, and think nothing of it. You won’t believe me but the numbers on the sticker mean a lot to your health.

If you purchase a fruit or vegetable, take few seconds to check its PLU. The code not only mention the price of the item at checkout, it also describes how the produce was grown up. PLU codes have been assigned by the International Federation for Produce Standards (IFPS) to make inventory control and checkout easier, faster, and more accurate. What is the significance of PLU code?The numbers on PLU code signifies the produce. It is grown using the ground and there are different ways to do this, as well as plenty of locations where produce is originated. PLU codes separate things like size, growing method (i.e.

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, organic vs. conventional), type of commodity (e.g., apple), and variety (e.g., Fuji apple, Pink Lady apple).

A PLU code that begins with a zero, or is four digits long, demonstrates that the produce that has been conventionally or traditionally grown using pesticides. (Ex: 06701 or 4262). The last four digits of the PLU code signifies the name of the fruit or vegetable. For example 4011 is a common code for Bananas.Meaning of Numbers?The item was conventionally grown, if the sticker has four digits and lies in the range 3000-4999.

Conventionally means growing in a traditional way which includes: the use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides to promote growth. Code on item with the prefix 9 will have five digits (i.e., the 9 is placed in the beginning of the five-digit number) and means the item is organic. Code that begins with an 8 implies that the produce is genetically modified. (Eg: 86330). This suggest that a genetically engineered seed has been used to grow it.

For example, a genetically engineered banana would be: 84011.What does more than five digits signify?If the sticker is six digits long, there is no guarantee about where the item came from or what the item is. Also, it means the number isn’t a part of the internationally standardized systemDifference between Conventional and Organic? “Organic” describes the way in which the food was produced. There is no clear cut evidence that conventionally grown food is any less safe or nutritious than organic.Other studies show that organic food is more nutritious because it has higher levels of antioxidants. Critics argue that there is no certainity as to whether or not your body is able to use these extra nutrients and antioxidants.

The Bottom LineWe live in a world where it’s virtually impossible to eliminate the possibility of consuming pesticides unless our produce is grown at home. And even then, it’s important to know whether or not the seed was genetically modified. “So, next time you go out to buy your favourite fruit from the nearest mall, do make it a point to read what those little stickers say. After all, it always pays to be well informed.    


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