Sticky labels on fruit

Have you ever wondered what those sticky labels are all about on your fruit?  While they may be primarily for the sellers, there is useful information on them for buyers too, so don't just dismiss them as something you have to remove - take a closer look!

The numbers on the labels (PLU - Product Look-Up number) consist of either four or five numbers and they are used to classify fruit in three different ways: conventionally grown, organic, and genetically modified.

All four-digit coded fruit is conventionally raised, so could well be contaminated with pesticides and fertilizers.  In the photo above, the 4030 number is the number used for kiwi fruits. So all kiwis will have 4030 in their PLU.  Other fruits have their distinctive number, for example a Granny Smith apple is 4017, Comice pears are 4414, etc.  Some fruits have a different number depending if it is large or small., e.g. a small Granny Smith is 4139, instead of 4017.

Five-digit codes either begin with the number 8 or the number 9.

If the first number of 5 digit code is an 8, then it means the fruit has been genetically modified, and grown conventionally.

If the first number of a 5 digit code is a 9, then it means the fruit has been grown to the standard defined by the National Organic Board and is certified Organic.

So in the photo above, the 3435 indicates that this is a PiƱata Apple and the 9 in front indicates that it was grown organically.

You may also be interested to note that the adhesive used on the labels is safe to eat (!), but the label is not!!

So get out there and look for those 5 digit numbers beginning with a 9! But don't eat the label :-D