PLU STICKERS DECODED

What? PLU stickers have a meaning to you and me, as well as to the supermarket cashier? Yep. I didn’t know that until now. Did you?

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PLU stickers are those things on your produce that you have to peel off, if you can. I thought maybe the “PLU” meant “Please Lift Up” (it made a little sense to me, anyway) , but, actually, it means “Price Look Up”– that part helps the cashier check you out more quickly. They were originally introduced in North America, but are now used in Australia, New Zealand, and European countries.
PLU stickers also tell “what food this is” and “where it came from”. In addition, PLU stickers tell you “how this food was grown”– very important information to you and me.

“Conventionally grown produce” is labeled with a PLU 4-digit number sticker. In other words, 4-digit numbers (which most often begin with “3″ or “4″) indicate “conventionally grown” produce, which can have been sprayed with chemical pesticides, weed killers, etc.

Two classes of produce are indentified by 5-digit numbers:

Genetically-modified produce is labeled with 5-digit numbers which begin with “8″. (This produce may also have been chemically treated.)

Organically grown produce is labeled with 5-digit numbers which begin with “9″. This lead number indicates that the produce it labels is organically grown, non-genetically modified, and not treated with any kind of chemicals.

Basically, then, if you want to ensure that what you are eating is of the best, healthiest quality, you should look for produce labeled with a number that begins with “9″.

More information on PLU codes is available at theInternational Federation for Produce Standards site.

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