Have you ever noticed the numbers on the labels of the fruit you buy? Do you know what they mean?
The labels on the fruit have digits called price look-up code (PLU) printed on them. These 4 or 5 numbers indicate if the fruit is a GMO product, if it’s organically grown or conventionally produced with pesticides and herbicides. Here’s what the digits mean:
4-digit PLU code
Apples usually have 4-digit PLU codes which indicate if they are small Fuji (4129) or Honeycrisp (3283). A 4-digit PLU means that the fruit is organic.
5-digit PLU code
If the number starts with 8, the produce is a GMO product. According to the WHO, GMOs are products whose DNA has been changed in an unnatural way. If the digit starts with 9 it means that the product has been organically grown.
How reliable are the PLU codes?
Besides number 9, all the other numbers are useless. A digit starting with number 8 is not meant for customers – it is designed to let retailers know it the product is GMO or organic in order to determine the price.
The American law doesn’t require GMO labeling so pretty much every store is not using number 8, which is understandable from a business point of view, as people would stay away from GMOs if they were properly labeled. So, if you see a 4-digit PLU code on a product, it won’t mean anything as you cannot be sure if the product is GMO or organic. Here’s a graph which shows ten GMO crops in the USA:
4 tips to avoid GMO
You should always try to get organic food – go to a local grocery store or buy your food from people living in the countryside. You should also download the non-GMO shopping guide.
When buying fruit and vegetables in markets, always look for the “GMO free” labels, but the best way to make sure your fruit and veggies are organically grown is to buy them locally.