Can Existing Labels on Fresh Fruits and Vegetables Give Any Information on the Methods Used to Grow Them?


The little bar-coded stickers that are placed on fresh, whole fruits and vegetables in the market also have a 4- or 5-digit number, called a PLU or price-look-up code (click here to see example). These codes are used by markets to identify fresh produce and also to indicate whether they are grown conventionally, organically or are genetically engineered, a.k.a. GMO.  A 4-digit PLU code in the 3000's or 4000's means they were conventionally grown.  A 5-digit PLU code starting with a "9" means they were grown organically. A 5-digit PLU code starting with an "8" means they have been created with genetic engineering.  Few fresh fruits and vegetables in the market today have been genetically engineered - some papaya from Hawaii, some types of summer squash and some sweet corn.  So look for the small sticker on the produce that you buy and look at the number to tell you something about how it was produced.  

Updated 8/27/12