Bar Codes

Know your codes, the sticker labels attached to fruits have more of a function than helping scan the price at the checkout stand. In Japan they have QR codes (abbreviated from Quick Response Code) but they are being used less and less, the Universal Product Code (UPC) is still the bar code of choice.

In the USA and Canada, the Price Look Up code (PLU) number printed on the sticker tells you how the fruit was grown. By reading the PLU, you can tell if the fruit was genetically modified, organically grown or produced with chemical fertilizers, fungicides, or herbicides.

Here are the basics of what you should know in the USA/Canada.

  1. If there are only four numbers in the PLU, this means that the produce was grown conventionally or “traditionally” with the use of pesticides. The last four letters of the PLU code are simply what kind of vegetable or fruit. An example is that all bananas are labeled with the code of 4011.
  2. If there are five numbers in the PLU code, and the number starts with “8″, this tells you that the item is a genetically modified fruit or vegetable. Genetically modified fruits and vegetables trump being organic. So, it is impossible to eat organic produce that are grown from genetically modified seeds. A genetically engineered (GE or GMO) banana would be: 84011

If there are five numbers in the PLU code, and the number starts with “9″, this tells you that the produce was grown organically and is not genetically modified. An organic banana would be: 94011

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Categories: Life Cycles