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It started with bananas but now it seems these days, every piece fruit and vegetable comes with one of those colorful little stickers. What are they and why are they popping up on all our produce?
They are called Price Lookup (PLU) code stickers. Along with having the price barcode, they also usually contain a numeric code and sometimes a country name. The numeric code tells you about how the fruit or vegetable was grown, either organically or genetically modified. The country code tells you where.
These PLU codes have been used on fruits and vegetables since 1990 and were originally used to help with inventory control. The codes are either four or five digits long.
Four digit codes mean that the produce was grown using pesticides. They range from 3000-4999 and also tell the type of produce. For example, 4011 is for bananas and 4012 is for oranges.
Five digit codes that start with an 8 mean that the produce has been genetically modified, such as 84011 for a genetically modified banana. A five digit code starting with a 9 means its organic, such as 94011 for an organic banana.