Integrative Health Blog

Small Numbers with a Big Meaning

Posted by Brooke Mader MS, FDN-P on Mon, Jul 01, 2013

Brooke Mader

apple barcode

You may find the little stickers on your produce a bit annoying and hard to peel off, but they do have a huge purpose- and it’s not to just to speed you through the check-out line. In fact, that number is telling you a whole lot more.

How to Tell What You are Buying

If  the first number of the five digit PLU (price look-up) code is 9, it means that the produce was grown organically.  For example, if the barcode reads 94663, then it is organic because it has 5 digits and starts with a 9.

If  the first number of the four digit PLU code is a 4, then this produce was conventionally grown.  For example, if the barcode reads 4883, then it is conventional because it has 4 digits and starts with a 4. Conventional produce is grown with synthetic chemicals such as fertilizers, pesticides, antibiotics and/or hormones.  

 

Hint: 9 is fine and 4 is poor.

 

If  the first number of the five digit PLU code is an 8, then the produce has been genetically modified.  For example if the barcode reads 86584, then it is genetically modified because it has 5 digits and starts with 8.

In most food stores, organic and conventional produce is clearly marked.  However, genetically modified produce is not as visible. Next time you are at the supermarket, you might want to take a closer look at those little stickers because the information they provide is important and can help you make a better informed buying decision.

Topics: produce barcodes, organic food, holistic nutrition