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How to read UPC codes for organic produce

Did you know those PLU codes on produce at the grocery store can be deciphered to give you clues as to what you are buying? Organic, conventionally-grown, and even genetically modified foods (GMO) should follow the produce labeling system.

According to the Organic Food Coupons blog, here’s how to read the codes:

  • PLU numbers on conventionally grown foods should have only 4 digits and begin with 4, for example: 4131
  • PLU codes for organically grown produce will contain 5 digits and begin with 9: 91022
  • PLU codes on genetically modified items should contain 5 digits and begin with 8: 81022

Here are some PLU examples:
Fuji Apples
#94129 Organic
#4131 Conventional

Granny Smith Apples
#94017 organic
#4017 conventional

Gala Apples
#94133 Organic
#4133 Conventional

Unfortunately, you can’t depend on knowing that the food is genetically engineered/modified (GMO) just by looking for the 8 at the beginning of the PLU code. Here’s what the Organic Food Coupons Blog has to say about it:

Initially in 1992 when the bio tech companies thought that we would all
wanted to eat their altered food they wanted to have a new “code” so that we
could all see which food was the altered and would buy it up- ya right! So
they adopted the number 8 to appear in front of their products. Quickly the
industry learned that not only do we NOT want the GMO foods we will
purposely not purchase foods that have been altered they no longer use the number
“8” as part of the code. The only GMO product that still used the “8” code
is Hawaiian papaya.

The only foods that you can be sure are not GMO foods are labeled
“Certified Organic”. Organic producers must follow strict rules to be able to label
their products as organic. Interesting or disturbingly enough the
companies producing the GMO (chemically altered foods) do not have labeling
restrictions- Crazy! Anything else is fair game unfortunately- pay special
attention to products that have corn, cotton seed or soy they may have GMO

As always, it’s up to you to pay attention if you are intent on eating clean, wholesome foods.

7 Comments on “How to read UPC codes for organic produce

  1. I’ve been shopping @ WHOLE foods for years for my ORGANIC FRUITS, VEGGIES ETC. & yet I still find myself scraping large amounts of WAX FROM MY GRANNY SMITH APPLES SMH!!!! IDK any more if it’s safe to eat ORGANIC some times!!!!

    1. The wax is for making the product more desirable to look at, you should always wash your fruits and greens properly

  2. UPC codes ARE NOT the same as PLU codes. Your post does not tell me how to know from a UPC if the product is organic.

  3. The UPC code on my “biologique Organic Fuji” apple is 94131. Should I assume, then, that it is not truly organic? According to your example and discussion, the “8” for GMO is no longer used, and the “4131” is conventional. So …. what does this number mean? Thanks for publishing this information.

  4. i can not hardly believe how the government is decieving people into believing that the FDA i worth a crap they are the ones hindering this country by the lies they try to tell us… i was watching anderson cooper the other day and this mom and dad had a little girl who has a health issue and the parents found something that could help there girl and the FDA steped in and said that they did not think it was a good idea to make this call to give it to her… who the hell are they..and also since they have been giving this to there daughter she is much better and not to mention that this has also been found that it will also help with the recovery in aids.. i believe it is some form of sugar.. thank you for this web site…jan

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