Understanding PLU Codes: Organic vs. Conventional and GMO

Occasionally it can be a struggle in stores to figure out what is organic and what is not while shopping in the produce department. I’ll tell you an easy way that you can figure it out just by looking at the PLU (Price Look-Up) code. Most of the time a produce will be labeled organic, but if you are unsure, this is an additional way to figure this out quickly.

If the PLU Code begins with a 9, then the product is certified organically grown.

Organic apple

If the PLU Code begins with a 4 or another number, then the product is conventional (not organic).

Conventional apple.

If the PLU Code begins with an 8, then it is genetically modified (GMO).

Using an 8 to label GMOs is optional, and most companies actually don’t use an 8 if the produce is genetically modified. So just be aware of this when you are seeing that 4 in the beginning of your PLU code. Genetically Modified foods are not regulated and do not require labeling. If you don’t buy organic, then you may be buying genetically modified without knowing it. To help change this, sign the petition to tell the FDA we want GMOs properly labeled.

If this interests you, make sure you check out my easy organic buying guide, What Does Organic Mean?

What are the main produce items that you choose to purchase organic vs. conventional?

  1. Thanks for sharing this useful information! We try to buy all of our produce organic, or at least we stick to organic if it’s something that falls under the “dirty dozen”.

  2. Thank you! The fact that they don’t have to identify GMO is super scary and completely not OK with me. I didn’t realize this. I have a right to know what is in my food!!!

  3. Thanks so much for posting this! I’ve seen it before, but I am so scatter-brained that I can’t remember if I printed it off or saved it in emails! Love your emails and thanks for sharing all these wonderful things with us!!! I am saving this one!!! :D

  4. what if it starts with a 3? I don’t see anything on any of the websites that mention what starting with a 3 means although it seems to be limited to fruit…not how it’s grown though.

  5. I’m with Rhonda. What does 3 tell us?
    I just bought some Sumo Mandarin oranges that have the code 3632. When I googled it, all the results offered were to identify what kind of mandarin orange it was but nothing to indicate conventional or organic. Can anybody help?

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