Monday, September 17, 2012

What do the produce codes mean?

You have probably seen labels (stickers) on produce items in the grocery store and wondered what they mean.  Well I am going to "crack the codes" for you.

The little stickers, also known as product lookup codes (PLU), are used to make check out and inventory control much easier and accurate for supermarkets.    They are also used to identify bulk produce. The codes indicate how the produce was grown (conventional, organically, or genetically), what the item is, it's size, as well as where it was grown.

Being able to read and understand what these codes mean may help you make a better decision when purchasing produce.  There is even this helpful link you can go to to learn more about produce.  Can you believe that there are more than 1400 universal PLU's assigned to produce?

Here are some simple numbers to pay attention to at the market.

"9" - produce was grown organically

"8" - produce was genetically modified

"0" or four-digit code - produce was grown conventionally

I would recommend choosing an organically grown produce item for any fruit or vegetable that does not have a skin to peel before eating.  Many supermarkets are now separating their conventional/genetically modified produce section from their organically grown produce section.

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