you purchase a fresh produce from a retail store, you’ll see a sticker
containing a four- or five-digit number. This number is called the (PLU) Price
Look Up code. Most people peel the sticker off, throw it away, and think nothing
of it. You won’t believe me but the numbers on the sticker mean a lot to your

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If you purchase a
fruit or vegetable, take few seconds to check its PLU. The code
not only mention the price of the item at checkout, it also describes how
the produce was grown up. PLU codes have been
assigned by the International Federation for Produce Standards (IFPS) to make
inventory control and checkout easier, faster, and more accurate.

 What is the significance of PLU code?

The numbers on PLU
code signifies the produce. It is grown using the ground and there are
different ways to do this, as well as plenty of locations where produce is
originated. PLU codes separate things like size, growing method (i.e., organic
vs. conventional), type of commodity (e.g., apple), and variety (e.g., Fuji
apple, Pink Lady apple). A PLU code that begins with a zero, or is four
digits long, demonstrates that the produce that has been conventionally or
traditionally grown using pesticides. (Ex: 06701 or 4262). The last four digits
of the PLU code signifies the name of the fruit or vegetable. For example 4011
is a common code for Bananas.

Meaning of Numbers?

The item was
conventionally grown, if the sticker has four digits and lies in the range
3000-4999. Conventionally means growing in a traditional way which includes:
the use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides to promote growth. Code on item
with the prefix 9 will have five digits (i.e., the 9 is placed in the beginning
of the five-digit number) and means the item is organic. Code that begins with
an 8 implies that the produce is genetically modified. (Eg: 86330). This
suggest that a genetically engineered seed has been used to grow it. For
example, a genetically engineered banana would be: 84011.

What does more than five digits signify?

If the
sticker is six digits long, there is no guarantee about where the item came
from or what the item is. Also, it means the number isn’t a part of the
internationally standardized system

Difference between Conventional and Organic?

 “Organic” describes the way in which the food
was produced. There is no clear cut evidence that conventionally grown food is
any less safe or nutritious
than organic.

studies show that organic food is more nutritious because it has higher levels
of antioxidants. Critics argue that there is no certainity as to whether or not
your body is able to use these extra nutrients and antioxidants.

Bottom Line

We live in a
world where it’s virtually impossible to eliminate the possibility of consuming
pesticides unless our produce is grown at home. And even then, it’s important
to know whether or not the seed was genetically modified.

“So, next time you go out to buy your favourite fruit from the
nearest mall, do make it a point to read what those little stickers say. After
all, it always pays to be well informed.