Lots of info on that stickly little produce label (warning, stay away from the 8’s)

March 16, 2008

You can tell alot about the produce simply by looking at the “product look-up” (PLU) code on the little label. PLUs are used on items that are sold loose or bunched, by weight or by each (i.e. an individual apple or bunch of greens). A PLU code contains 4-5 digits total.

  • Conventionally grown food (not genetically modified, not organic) will have a 4 digit PLU.
  • Organic food will have 5 digits starting with a 9, e.g. an organically grown banana would be 94011.
  • Genetically modified (GM) food will have 5 digits starting with an 8, e.g. a genetically engineered vine ripe tomato would be 84805.

The international PLU system is governed by voluntary cooperation of participating countries that are represented by national or regional representatives on the International Federation for Produce Standards (IFPS) Board of Directors. PLU codes have been used by supermarkets since 1990 to make check-out and inventory control easier, faster, and more accurate.

http://www.plucodes.com/docs/IFPS-plu_codes_users_guide.pdf

4 Responses to “Lots of info on that stickly little produce label (warning, stay away from the 8’s)”


  1. I don’t think that this is a good way to determine if you are eating GE food. Please see my full argument here: http://www.undoge.org/?p=25

  2. annierichardson Says:

    Hi Nigel,

    Thanks for stopping by and thanks for your comment. You’re right, simply looking at a PLU code is not a good way to determine if you’re eating GE food. You make some good points on how to do that on your site (good one by the way). You can however, get a good idea if produce is conventionally or organically grown by checking out the PLU.

    We posted the PLU info to help create awareness – to let people know that that there is a distinction in the types of produce on the shelves. If more people start looking and asking questions about what they’re buying, that’s a good thing.

  3. Holli Jarven Says:

    I found produce that the number on the sticker begins with a 3. What does this mean. Holli


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