Produce PLU (Product Look Up) Numbers
I read on Facebook that the PLUs on produce….those numbers you punch into the self-check out registers at the supermarket….actually can tell us if the product is grown with conventional agricultural practices, is organic, or is genetically modified. So, I did some research and here’s the straight scoop:
Introduced in 1990, currently, there are over 1300 universal PLU codes assigned to produce, nuts and herbs, all with the last four digits between 3000 and 4999. PLUs are five digits. For those that only show four, the first number is a zero, so is typically omitted. Sam was about 3 years old when he memorized that bananas are 4011. The zero prefix is the code for conventionally grown products.
A preface of 8 indicates that the product is genetically modified and a prefix of 9 is that it has been organically produced. So the info on Facebook was accurate.
However, the codes are used for the convenience of the growers, distributors and grocers so are optional. They are NOT in place for the convenience or education of the consumers. So don’t be expecting to see any codes with 8s. If you want to check out a code, however, use this link.