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Produce PLU (Product Look Up) Numbers

August 7, 2012

Ooooh, Facebook…what would we do without you? So much content… much controversy……I discovered quite a while ago that if anything appeals to my sense of greed or outrage I better check it out. It’s gotten to a point now that I check out almost everything I read there before I consider it a fact.

Last night 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, 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

17 Comments leave one →
  1. August 7, 2012 8:31 am

    Thank you for your great post this morning! I love being informed on what I buy to eat.

    • August 7, 2012 11:49 am

      The concept behind GMO is a kind one—to help feed the hungry in the world—but now that GMO foods have been in our marketplace for almost 20 years we are beginning to see some issues that might be an effect. The difficult part is that no testing was done so hard to correlate fully, but it is why the European nations and so many people here in the US and Canada want to avoid GMO foods as much as possible.

      • August 7, 2012 1:30 pm

        My friend in England says that many GMO foods are actually banned in Europe.

      • August 7, 2012 3:00 pm

        The European Union does not allow them. It is interesting to note how we are more restrictive on some things, like medical drugs, and they are more on food.

  2. August 7, 2012 9:34 am

    Many “Thank you’s Beth! How did you find that so fast? I’ll be sharing this one…

    • August 7, 2012 11:47 am

      My husband says I am the Queen of the Internet. Searching sources, double and triple checking. And getting up before the crack of dawn. *G*

  3. August 7, 2012 2:52 pm

    i wish they were banned here campfireshadows – or at least identified. I do my level best to stay away from anything that may be…

    • August 7, 2012 2:59 pm

      Patti, with all your wonderful effort to use local sources and know the farmers’ methods, I imagine your current foods are pretty safe!

      • August 7, 2012 4:02 pm

        i am pretty safe – and feel very blessed in that. It’s everyone else i worry about. ‘just talking to someone else who has no access to Farm Fresh anything. so sad.

  4. August 7, 2012 4:47 pm

    I think what worries me most about GMOs is the fact that they haven’t had any testing to speak of and once they’re planted, there’s no stopping cross pollination. So essentially we’re stuck with whatever is let loose out there. I’m not so sure about the concept being a kind one since Monsanto is wanting to patent their results and then they turn around and sue the farmers whose crops are essentially ruined by cross-pollination. If it was such a benign thing they’re doing, then why the huge fight to keep from labeling (as you already suggested)?

    • August 7, 2012 4:56 pm

      Gunta – I cry for the farmers re: cross pollination of the GMO seed. I believe Monsanto fights because of their experience in Europe – and the suicides by India’s farmers and what the bad press is doing…killing their ‘Markets’. When labeling became mandatory – they couldn’t sell the stuff. I read recently that Monsanto is closing its European operations and brining them back here. Now that’s some jobs we could do without!
      Here’s a 10 year GMO study that landed in front of me last week. The results are irrefutable.

      • August 7, 2012 6:56 pm

        Patti, the article is pretty disturbing. I will have to carefully research this to be able to write an informative blog about the GMO practice and why people are so concerned. I am thankful that here in West Virginia many of us have so many farmers who are interested in heirloom and heritage crops and meat sources. With careful shopping, we can perhaps avoid a good amount of the foods that are already marketed, but without labeling, we may never be fully aware of all that we are putting into our bodies.

      • August 7, 2012 7:18 pm

        i will look forward to seeing that! Good luck. The work is so critical!

      • August 7, 2012 7:25 pm

        IMO – this is well beyond smoke… I’ve been watching this fairly closely for 7 years. When you look at what’s going on in So. America – you’ll really be surprised – Governments holding Monsanto accountable!

    • August 7, 2012 6:56 pm

      Gunta, I will start to research this to try to present as even handed a discourse as possible.

      • August 7, 2012 7:08 pm

        That would be much appreciated. In general I lean toward not trusting the big conglomerates. I probably don’t dig deep enough, but tend to think where’s there’s smoke there’s usually some fire.

  5. September 1, 2012 8:44 pm

    very Good blog Thank you!

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