Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Deciphering Fruit and Veggie Stickers

I learned this recently and it's been helpful.

You know those coded stickers on fruits and vegetables? Well, they tell you how that food was grown. For example:
  • A conventionally grown product (grown with chemical assistance) will have a 4 digit PLU code starting with the number 4. (Example: conventionally grown Red Delicious apple: 4015)

  • An organic product will have a 5 digit code starting with the number 9. (Example: organic Red Delicious apple: 94015)

  • A genetically engineered (GE or GMO) product will have a 5 digit code starting with the number 8. (Example: GMO Red Delicious apple: 84015)
I learned an easy way to remember this:
  • 4 is a bore
  • 8 I hate
  • 9 is fine
Information found here.


  1. Interesting! My necterine's # is 3035...any idea about that?

  2. Hi Devy! I did look up the numbers that start with 3 and, from what I understand, they are assigned to specific fruits (mostly citrus, from what I can tell) but the 3 means the same thing as 4. I noticed that some of my fruit stickers on my cupboard start with 3.

    It seems that the 4-digit numbers, whether they start with 3 or 4, means normally produced (using chemicals) produce. It's when you see 5 digits that you can decipher whether the produce was genetically engineered (starting with 8) or is certified organic (starting with 9).

    I have no idea why regular produce starts with mostly 4 and sometimes 3. Why not 2, for example?

  3. Hi,Heather.
    Testing, testing.

  4. Got your "test", anon! Welcome to my team!

  5. Thanks for the info, Heather!

  6. Hey, Heather! I've been following things second-hand through Dev, but I had to post a response to this one. As you might guess, I'm more than a little suspicious of stuff like this, so I did some research. First off, the info seems to be solid. The linked site tried to have official references, but the links are broken. Try this PDF:

    In a nutshell, the code is actually 5 digits, but the only leading digits currently defined are 0, 8, and 9 are currently defined. 0 indicates a 'normal' crop and is optional, hence the '4 is a bore'.

  7. Hi Ron,

    Thanks for the supportive research and for the improved link. Yes, I also saw that the "0" is typically supposed to be ahead of the "4" or "3" making them 5 digits. I wish they would just be consistent. Well, I guess they consistently don't use the 0.

    I notice that I don't have a single "8" in the sticker collection on my kitchen cupboards that has been growing for at least 8 years. That's good.


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