PLU Stickers on Fruit Tell You All You Need to Know About Its Potentially Toxic History
A 5-digit PLU code starting with the number “3” means the produce wasirradiated (electronically pasteurized).
If there are only 4 digits in the PLU and they begin with a “3” or “4”, it means that the produce was grown conventionally or “traditionally” with the use ofpesticides. The last four digits 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.
A PLU code beginning with a “6” identifies pre-cut fruits and vegetables.
If there are 5 digits in the PLU code, and the number starts with an “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. For example, a genetically engineered (GE or GMO) banana would be: 84011
If there are 5 digits in the PLU code, and the number starts with a “9”, this tells you that the produce was grown organically and is not genetically modified. An organic banana would be: 94011
Any number found on the sticker that begins with a 9 is there to show that the produce is organic. On the other hand, products that have numbers that start with the numbers 4 or 3 are products that are grown in a conventional way. Conventional farming relies on pesticides and chemicals which help the manufacturer get larger, faster and more lasting crops.
The Dirty Dozen Plus
These foods have very high pesticide loads and should always be purchased organic or grown yourself!
- Cherry Tomatoes
- Hot Peppers
- Nectarines (imported)
- Sweet Bell Peppers
- Kale/Collard Greens
- Summer Squash
The following foods were found by EWG to be relatively low in pesticide residue. They may be good conventional options for those on a budget.
- Sweet Corn [Editors Note: beware of genetically modified varieties. If you want to avoid GMOs, eat only organic corn/]
- Papayas [Editors Note: beware of genetically modified varieties. If you want to avoid GMOs eat only organic papaya.]
- Sweet Peas
- Sweet Potatoes
Now, for the number we have all been waiting for, 8. Any sticker starting with the number 8 means that the produce is GMO. GMOs mean that the food is created by a person or machine to maximize productivity. This type of food should always be avoided!