Tags

, , , , , ,


As someone who loves to cook, and was raised by my grandmama, who was all about cooking French style. Meaning, think Julia Child’s style cooking level. Her ingredients, big flavors, full sensory immersiveness. Her philosophy was your food must tantalize all your senses, and feed your body nutrients as well. She was beyond fearless in the kitchen. It is no wonder I love to cook.

However, she was very much into the science and medical side of food as well. Another characteristic I definitely take after her.

That brings me to this blog piece topic. Do you know what those numbers and line codes you see on your food mean, or represent? They serve as markers to identify your food in quite a bit of detail, for various purposes.

With food being insanely expensive right now, and so many people following food fads for healthy, or moderately healthy eating and lifestyle, I thought I should get you facts on the food you are buying, and consuming, so you are having the best food experience possible.

Below, I have compiled several different articles and video to break down how some of the foods in your diet, and food groups are labeled.

Keeping you in the know! Manga 🥰

Leila

Did you know the little number on a sticker on your produce in American is actually the details of your food source. What the number reads can tell you if Organic? GMO? Herbicides and Pesticides? Location sourced? And more.

For instance:

This folks is one of the many reasons you should read labels, stickers, and scan QRR codes. Know what you are putting in your body.

Cracking the Produce Sticker Code

August 28, 2019 | Wellness & Prevention

What produce labels tell us about your vegetables and fruits.

Red and yellow peppers with produce labels.

When you reach for piece of fruit or vegetable at the grocery store, you may notice a small sticker on the skin with numbers. The number is called a PLU code, or a price-lookup code. You may be surprised by what that produce sticker reveals.

PLU codes have been used by supermarkets since 1990 to help checkers identify fruits and vegetables so they can charge the correct price and maintain better inventory control. But the sticker is not just for checkout.

The four- or five-digit numbers identify the produce, indicating size, growing method, type of food (apple or orange for instance) and variety (such as a Honeycrisp or Golden Delicious apple).

The voluntary labels tell you whether you are purchasing organic or conventionally grown produce.

  • Organically grown fruits and vegetables have labels with five digits starting with the number 9.
  • Conventionally grown fruits and vegetables have labels with four digits.
  • If the code contains more than five digits, it is not part of the internationally standardized system.

Organic vs. conventional, what’s the difference?

Organically grown means natural fertilizers were used instead of synthetic chemicals.

Organic farming uses compost and manure instead of chemical fertilizers. It uses insects and birds, and/or traps instead of synthetic pesticides. Crop rotation, mulching and hand weeding replace synthetic herbicides. Organic produce is usually grown without genetic engineering or modification.

Conventionally grown means synthetic fertilizers and pesticides were used to promote growth and prevent disease.

“Food labels can tell you a lot about what you’re eating and help you make well-informed food choices for you and your family,” says Vikki Lane, MD, an internal medicine physician at Scripps Clinic Carmel Valley.

Produce can be called organic if it’s certified to have grown on soil that had no synthetic fertilizers and pesticides applied for three years prior to harvest, according to the federal Department of Agriculture (USDA).

If you’re shopping on a budget, organic foods tend to be more expensive, due largely to limited supplies and additional labor and other costs to produce. You have options when buying conventionally grown produce, however. Just check which products have the lowest pesticide residue.

The nonprofit Environmental Working Group (EWG) releases the annual Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce, which lists fruits and vegetables with the highest and lowest pesticide residues.

What is GMO?

Genetically modified organisms or GMO produce are in a different category than organic and conventional produce. They’ve been the source of debate since they were introduced in the 1990s.

GMO foods are genetically engineered in a lab to have certain characteristics. This may include resistance to certain pests and molds, a different color than the original plant, faster growing times, larger fruit or even have higher values of certain vitamins. Many GMO crops grown in the United States are genetically engineered to be resistant to chemical pesticides.

GMO fruits and vegetables were once assigned a five-digit PLU code number that started with the number 8. But the 8 prefix was dropped in 2015 as the GMO designation, and it was never used in retail. The International Federation for Produce Standards (IFPS), which assigns the voluntary PLU codes, says it plans to use the 8 prefix in the future for non-GMO produce.

Are GMOs safe?

The genetic manipulation of some foods has raised concerns about whether genetically engineered foods are as safe to eat as conventionally grown foods. The topic is still hotly debated even as there is no clear scientific evidence that GMOs are harmful to your health. The World Health Organization considers GMOs on the international market safe for consumption. The American Medical Association supports pre-market assessment of GMO food safety, but not mandatory GMO food labels.

Consumer demand for greater transparency in food labeling continues. In 2018, the USDA announced mandatory labeling for many foods made with GMO ingredients. They will be labeled as “bioengineered.” The deadline to comply with the National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard is Jan. 1, 2022.

“The more transparency we have in food labels the better,” says Dr. Lane. “With so many choices, understanding what labels mean can help clarify our food choices.”


Some facts about PLU standards

  • At present, there are over 1300 universal PLU codes in effect.
  • At present, the range of PLU codes is between 3000 and 4999.
  • PLU codes are used only for loose products such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, and herbs.
  • Most packaged or containerized products do not fall under the scope of PLU standards because they follow another standard called GTIN (global trade item number). However, there are some exceptions. For instance, grapes packaged in a plastic bag may have a PLU code instead of GTIN.
  • Products that have been additionally processed, such as stuffed vegetables, do not fall under the scope of IFPS’s PLU standards.

What is the difference between UPC and PLU?

What is a PLU Number? Finally, we get to PLUs, this stands for Price Look-Up and references the 4-5-digit number that is most commonly used on fresh produce items versus a UPC which is usually reserved for packaged products.


What Those Codes on Your Produce *Really* Mean

A nutrition pro decodes the little stickers you see on your favorite fruits and veggies.

Karla Walsh

Karla WalshUpdated December 16, 2022

Reviewed by Dietitian Lisa Valente, M.S., RD

Attention, shoppers in Aisle 1: You can learn a lot about your purchase if you look a little closer.

Turns out, those little coded stickers on your banana can help you learn more about your fruit: “A 4-digit code means conventionally grown, while a 5-digit one starting with 9 means organic and a 5-digit code starting with 8 means genetically modified,” says Dan Vaché, a supply chain consultant and former vice president of the International Fresh Produce Association.

Type of food, size, growing method and species are often all related to a produce PLU code, the specific name for these informative strings of numbers. Since the early 1990s, most grocery stores and food retailers have voluntarily used PLU codes to speed up checkout times and track stock.

“The numbers are assigned by the International Federation for Produce Standards, and while they are not intended to convey information to consumers, if one is interested, the data is there. These codes really are meant to be tools for accurate pricing at the cash register, inventory control and category management,” says Tamika D. Sims, Ph.D., the Atlanta, Georgia-based senior director of food technology communications at the International Food Information Council.

If you’re one of the nearly 50% of shoppers who regularly use self-checkout kiosks, you can utilize the convenience factor of PLU codes to speed up your checkout time too. Rather than typing in the fruit or vegetable’s name and finding it in the gallery, simply press “Key in Code,” enter that four- or five-digit number, weigh or enter the number of produce items and you’re all set.

Related: The Best Way to Store Fruits and Vegetables

So What’s the Deal with Organic vs. Conventional Produce?

Since very few fresh produce items sold today are genetically modified (meaning they’ve been bred using genetic technology), the big difference noted by the PLU codes is whether the food is grown conventionally or organically.

  • Organic produce is grown with natural fertilizers, such as manure or compost, and relies on natural biological or mechanical weed control. Its soil must have been free of prohibited products for three years before gaining organic certification from the United States Department of Agriculture. All organic items are non-GMO.
  • Conventional produce can be grown with the help of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides to combat potential diseases and boost growth.

What Those Codes on Your Produce *Really* Mean

A nutrition pro decodes the little stickers you see on your favorite fruits and veggies.

Karla Walsh

Karla WalshUpdated December 16, 2022

Reviewed by Dietitian Lisa Valente, M.S., RD

PinMore

Hand holding an avocado

CREDIT: GETTY / D3SIGN

Attention, shoppers in Aisle 1: You can learn a lot about your purchase if you look a little closer.

Turns out, those little coded stickers on your banana can help you learn more about your fruit: “A 4-digit code means conventionally grown, while a 5-digit one starting with 9 means organic and a 5-digit code starting with 8 means genetically modified,” says Dan Vaché, a supply chain consultant and former vice president of the International Fresh Produce Association.

Type of food, size, growing method and species are often all related to a produce PLU code, the specific name for these informative strings of numbers. Since the early 1990s, most grocery stores and food retailers have voluntarily used PLU codes to speed up checkout times and track stock.

Related: I’m a Dietitian on a Budget & This Is How I Always Organize My Grocery List

“The numbers are assigned by the International Federation for Produce Standards, and while they are not intended to convey information to consumers, if one is interested, the data is there. These codes really are meant to be tools for accurate pricing at the cash register, inventory control and category management,” says Tamika D. Sims, Ph.D., the Atlanta, Georgia-based senior director of food technology communications at the International Food Information Council.

If you’re one of the nearly 50% of shoppers who regularly use self-checkout kiosks, you can utilize the convenience factor of PLU codes to speed up your checkout time too. Rather than typing in the fruit or vegetable’s name and finding it in the gallery, simply press “Key in Code,” enter that four- or five-digit number, weigh or enter the number of produce items and you’re all set.

Related: The Best Way to Store Fruits and Vegetables

So What’s the Deal with Organic vs. Conventional Produce?

Since very few fresh produce items sold today are genetically modified (meaning they’ve been bred using genetic technology), the big difference noted by the PLU codes is whether the food is grown conventionally or organically.

  • Organic produce is grown with natural fertilizers, such as manure or compost, and relies on natural biological or mechanical weed control. Its soil must have been free of prohibited products for three years before gaining organic certification from the United States Department of Agriculture. All organic items are non-GMO.
  • Conventional produce can be grown with the help of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides to combat potential diseases and boost growth.

Sims and her team at IFIC unpeeled the market to find out how Americans feel about the difference between the two in their 2019 Food and Health Survey. They focused purely on nutrition—not the environmental impacts (the latter of which, the United Nations notes, can be mitigated quite a bit by choosing organic over conventional).

“Approximately 15% of Americans claimed that in the past 10 years they have changed their diet by eating more fruits and vegetables. Still, many Americans still don’t consume the daily recommended amount of fruits and vegetables, so I think it’s a public health disservice to encourage people to eat only organic produce,” says Sims.

The bottom line, Sims concludes, is that there are no demonstrable nutritional or safety differences between organically or conventionally grown produce. A 2019 review of studies published in Nutrients found that organic produce doesn’t have a nutritional advantage over conventional produce (particularly as far as macronutrients go), and that “the current evidence base does not allow a definitive statement on the long-term health benefits of organic dietary intake.”

“The list of pesticides that can be used for organic produce is different than for conventional, but they’re all made up of federally regulated compounds that are designed to kill or repel insects and other pests. People should focus more on eating enough fruits and vegetables and less on how they are grown,” says Sims.

So go ahead and grab that four-digit plum.


The difference between a SKU vs. UPC

The main difference between SKUs and UPCs is that SKUs (stock-keeping units) are for internal use and UPCs (universal product codes) are for external use. Both are useful for tracking and managing inventory, monitoring supply chains and analyzing sales trends.

I hope you gained knowledge on eating better, and some trutha about groceries too.

Click the highlight link below to watch the very short clip on Facebook about PLU (Price Lookup) code stickers on your produce.

https://www.facebook.com/reel/1814092712309125?sfnsn=mo&s=F5x8gs&fs=e&mibextid=6AJuK9