Attention: Take A Closer Look At These Numbers When Buying Fruit!

The numbers you see on those little stickers attached to fruits and veggies have a meaning that actually might interest you. 

These numerals are called PLU, and they tell you whether your shopping choice is organic, GMO and they can also give you other data on the food you are going to consume.

What does PLU stand for?

PLU is a common abbreviation standing for “price lookup.” These codes can be almost always found on tiny colorful stickers affixed to fruits and vegetables (that are offered at grocery shops and big markets).

They are intended to help cashiers at the paying terminals what to charge a customer for a given piece of produce. It is very convenient since some apples are real lookalikes, but prices vary among varieties. Since a desk teller cannot necessarily distinguish between a Honeycrisp and a Fiji apple with their “naked eye,” PLU codes were invented to serve the purpose.

The meaning of PLU digit codes

  • A 5-digit code beginning with a “9” is one that has been priced as organic. These are commonly seen in the organic produce section in supermarkets and in most chain health-food stores
  • A 4-digit code beginning with a “3” or a “4” means that the produce is almost certainly conventionally grown. Let’s state this example: regular small lemons sold in the U.S. are labeled 4033, large are labeled 4053; small organic lemons are coded 94033, and large are coded 94053
  • A 5-digit code that starts with an “8” denotes that the item is genetically modified (GMO product).

A hint about GMO products

A PLU code starting with an “8” means that the produce is GMO. However, the private consumer will seldom see a piece of produce labeled with an “8”.Why is this?

The number “8” indicates a genetically modified organism, or GMO, an acronym that is like a scarecrow for many health-conscious people, who eat only “body-wise.”

Yet, PLU codes are not reliable

Consumer Reports state that many GMO items are sold below standard. Four-digit codes and consumers are none the wiser because of the controversy GMOs has brought along with itself.

While many consumers appreciate honesty and demand to be given a real, easily distinguished choice in what they pick up at the grocery stores, GMO-selling companies do not want to see their sales plummet, as most  In addition, GMOs Are Not required to be labeled in most places!

A tip on how to avoid GMOs

Food-producing companies are not obliged to put warning labels on GMOs, so they can opt to boast when their products are GMO-free. The most certain tactic to avoid GMOs is buy produce labeled “USDA Certified Organic” or specifically labeled as “Non-GMO.”

USDA Certified Organic

According to the USDA’s official website, the inclusion of any type of GMOs is prohibited in an organic product:

“The use of genetic engineering, or genetically modified organisms (GMOs), is prohibited in organic products. This means an organic farmer can’t plant GMO seeds, an organic cow can’t eat GMO alfalfa or corn, and an organic soup producer can’t use any GMO ingredients.

To meet the USDA organic regulations, farmers and processors must show they aren’t using GMOs and that they are protecting their products from contact with prohibited substances, such as GMOs, from farm to table. 

Look for these labels when buying at the grocery store, and look for the “non-GMO” label when purchasing seeds for your vegetable and fruit garden.

This way, you can take control of what goes into your body and show GMO-selling companies that they won’t get your money until they stop genetically engineering the food they sell.”

Jeffrey Smith, consumer advocate, says that there are only 4 GMO veggies and fruits at this point:

  • papaya, from Hawaii only
  • some types of zucchini and yellow squash
  • some corn on the cob

For this produce, unless it says organic – or displays a non-GMO sign in the store – eating them is like real gambling. It could be GMO indeed. So, stop looking for labels! Suppose that if it is not labeled GMO-free, then it must contain GMOs!

Top 10 points to remember when shopping for Non-GMO foods

1.Look for products that are labeled either USDA Certified Organic or Non-GMO Project Verified

2. Avoid all corn, soy, and canola that is not specifically labeled as Non-GMO

3. Familiarize yourself with the abundant aliases for corn and soy (such as maize or hominy for corn)

4. Buy ingredients, instead of “food with ingredients”

5. Cook from scratch

6. Try buying in local farmers markets rather than buying at the grocery shop

7. Meet your farmers personally

8. Preserve food (by refrigerating it) while it’s in season

9. Don’t be wasteful!

10. Use every single edible part to make your food dollars go further!

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Sources:
http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/news/2010/05/what-do-plu-codes-say-about-your-produce/index.htm
http://blogs.usda.gov/2013/05/17/organic-101-can-gmos-be-used-in-organic-products/