Pay attention to these figures when buying fruit!


Have you ever wondered what the numbers for some of the products you are buying really mean? In fact, this is much more important than you think.

The numbers that you see on the stickers are also known as the price search code (PLU).

The four or five digits that you see help identify foods that are genetically modified, organically grown, or traditionally produced (use of pesticides / herbicides). Here’s what you need to know:

4-digit PLU code

For example, the 4-digit PLU codes that you see on apples are told by a lady who is a small Fuji (4129) and who is Honeycrisp (3283). She will know what to charge you, and the inventory elves will know what’s what. (a source)

If the PLU has only four numbers, it means that the product was grown traditionally using artificial pesticides.

5-digit PLU code

1. Begins with “8”: if there are five numbers in the PLU code, and the number starts with “8”, this indicates that this item is a genetically modified fruit or vegetable. A genetically engineered (GE or GMO) banana will be: 84011.

According to the World Health Organization, “GMOs can be defined as organisms in which the genetic material (DNA) has been altered in a way that does not occur naturally.”

2. Begins with “9”: any number starting with nine is organic. It is grown organically and not genetically modified. An organic banana would be: 94011.

How reliable are these PLU codes?

Except for the number 9, all other figures are useless. What for?

Because number 8 was not intended for use by consumers. It was created to allow retailers to distinguish between GMOs and non-GMOs in order to determine the price or stocks. (a source)

Since GMO labeling is not required throughout the country, most grocery stores do not use number 8. And why are they? Most Americans say that they would have avoided GMOs if they were labeled.

In other words, you can see the 4-digit code on the product, but this does not guarantee that it is not a GMO.

Here is a short graph showing that 10 GMOs (in greens) are produced in the United States and approved for commercial use. (a source)

For more information about this table, see.

4 Tips to avoid GMOs

  1. Buy organic.
  2. Look for products with the inscription “Without GMO”.
  3. Download the Shopping Guide without GMOs here.
  4. Buy products that are grown locally and seasonally.

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