August 7, 2013


The category today is Does-Everyone-Know-This-But-Me? and the subject is the International Price Look-Up code.

I’ve been picking those annoying little stickers off apples, oranges, peppers and tomatoes, etc., for what seems like forever, always assuming they were of some use to the supermarket, but had nothing to do with me.

Pink Lady apples wearing their PLUs - photo by Sven Teschke

Pink Lady apples wearing their PLUs – photo by Sven Teschke

Wrong.  It turns out that the PLU is about the only way you can find out if your food is genetically modified.

Most of the time, a PLU is a four-digit number.  My Braeburn apples are labelled 4139, which means they are conventionally grown.  If they were organic, the PLU would be 94139.  That additional first number is what you want to look for.

In the case of GM produce,  the first number would be an 8. A franken-Braeburn would carry a PLU of 84139.

In short, we already have GM labelling, which surprised me since that seems to be a big issue for a lot of people.  Maybe we just don’t have enough GM labelling.

Now, if they would just make the country of origin visible. . .

N.B. Had this COMPLETELY WRONG –  have corrected the information as of 3:18 p.m. My profound apologies.



  1. I had no idea that the number had any meaning to it! Thanks for the enlightenment.


    Comment by Jane — August 7, 2013 @ 4:49 am | Reply

  2. PLU stickers that have 4 digits and begin with a “3″ or “4″: produce is conventionally grown. This means that this produce was sprayed with weed killers and chemical pesticides.

    PLU stickers that have 5-digits and start with “8″: produce was genetically engineered (man intervened by manipulating the genes to produce a larger or brighter colored food). This produce may have been chemically treated.

    PLU stickers that have 5-digits and start with “9″: produce was raised organically. You can be sure that this produce was not treated with any chemicals.



    Comment by ninachat — August 7, 2013 @ 3:17 pm | Reply

    • OMG – thank you so much for the correction – I apparently read everything backwards.


      Comment by jchatoff — August 7, 2013 @ 3:22 pm | Reply

  3. Very informative, both you and ninachats… no, I did not know…. but now I know. Thank you.


    Comment by galyatarmu — August 7, 2013 @ 3:54 pm | Reply

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