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VitoVino 10-24-2011 06:09 PM

How to identify GMO produce by the PLU code
A Method to Help Identify Genetically Modified Foods


The stickers that contain the PLU code (Price Lookup Code) tell you if the fruit was conventionally grown, genetically modified, or organically grown. The PLU code for conventional produce has four numbers, GM fruit has five numbers preceeded by the number 8, while organically grown produce has five numbers, preceeded by the number 9. Organically grown fruit will not be Genetically Modified or contain pesticides. Look for the number 9!
You can also download the International Federation for Produce Standards (IFPS) guide here:

Page 17 has more information on this.

Kohsamui 10-27-2011 03:26 AM

Useful tip; thanks a lot!

VitoVino 10-27-2011 04:17 PM

You're welcome.

Interestingly, last night I went food shopping to discover my local market is being overhauled. They have a brand new, large refrigerated section that has a lot of organic foods. I was amazed.

I'm sure they wouldn't have gone through the expense and the trouble unless there was a good market trend towards such a thing. It's a positive sign that things are changing! :)

Rubystars 10-27-2011 08:12 PM

I usually buy normal produce but sometimes I buy organic when it's not outrageously expensive. I do think that it would be a good idea to buy it more often and I would probably buy mostly organic if I had a bigger paycheck. I really like organic winter squash, it's sweeter than the regular kind in my opinion. I also really like organic strawberries.

I think for me personally avoiding the "8" would be more important than always getting the "9". They might be doing something weird like putting some kind of human genes in the 8 produce for all I know (probably not, but I have heard of weird stuff like using animal genes in produce that causes problems for some people who follow religious diets, thankfully I don't generally have that prohibition although I would obviously avoid anything with human in it).

VitoVino 10-27-2011 11:18 PM

I hear you about price. For the most part I'm not buying organic but would buy more if the prices were comparable to regular. So far I've just tried some organic veggies and really haven't noticed a difference in flavor.

The real difference is the popcorn I've been eating lately. I found "Fireworks" on the website that sounds like a tropical rain forest, and it's priced pretty much equal to Orville R. For sure it's got a better flavor and the company claims that it's because they are using heritage seeds, just like the corn granny used to eat.

But this is a journey. Perhaps we'll get into it with more organic as time goes on, or we'll just start growing our own veggies. Honestly GMO doesn't freak me out or anything, it's just one of those things I'm very weary about and given the choice I try to avoid it. Unfortunately we're at a point in history where our engineered foods are a giant, unproven experiment. 50 years from now the data will be in.

Rubystars 10-29-2011 12:41 PM

I probably eat a lot of GMO food anyway because I eat canned veggies sometimes and frozen ones and frozen fruit in bags and canned soups, etc. I don't get overly freaked out by it either but given the choice, I'd like to minimize it somewhat since we really don't know what's going on with it yet as you said.

dar n 10-29-2011 08:47 PM

It's really challenging to avoid all GMO foods but like you said if we try at least its healthier than not caring at all. I have discovered in my quest to remove gmo that it has eliminated 90% of processed foods so very helpful to my weight loss.:) Corn,soybean and canola are in most foods so total avoidance is really hard but if we avoid those middle isles of the grocery store we are well on our way. I am a big organic supporter but I will also choose local as the cost can be lower and their are advantages to buying local. I do believe the more of us that choose organic the better the pricing will become but you are right we have to shop wisely and within our budget. I am happy that more people seem to be questioning GMO and thinking organically I really believe we need to take our food rights back from large corporations. I also hope that my new thinking with GMO foods will help maintain my weight loss this time around as it's changed the way I shop and eat.
Have a great day.

VitoVino 11-08-2011 04:57 PM

Here's an interesting update to this topic of GMO foods.

I've recently tried Fireworks brand popcorn because of the amazon reviews and because it's GMO free. But it doesn't state if it's organic, so they probably use standard pesticides on this corn just like regular, GMO popcorn. This is probably why there is no "9" in the PLU code. No problem there, just stating what I've found.

My question arose when looking at Orville Redenbacher White popcorn. Was it non GMO? Probably not one would think, as it's produced by Conagra. Yet the container of popcorn DOES NOT have an "8" in the PLU code, so it's possible that the product is GMO free, one would think.

So I emailed Conagra a few weeks ago and asked them whether their product was GMO or not. Here is the reply (bold for emphasis):


Thank you for your email concerning our Orville Redenbacher's White Kernels.

If you prefer to purchase products that do not contain biotech ingredients, we can recommend organic products. Per the USDA's certification requirements for organic products, organic ingredients cannot be derived from biotech (genetically modified) seeds.
Some of our products contain ingredients that were produced from crops produced using biotechnology. All of these ingredients are approved by the USDA and the FDA, and we stand by the safety and integrity of our ingredients.*
The products that most likely contain biotech ingredients would be those that contain corn and soybean. Biotechnology modified versions of these crops have been approved for use and are common in the food supply. Because they are fundamentally the same as crops developed through traditional breeding, they are difficult to segregate and trace. Even if they were traceable, our formulas and suppliers change from time to time, so we couldn't say definitively if biotech ingredients are included in a specific product. We stand by the safety and integrity of our ingredients.
Our labeling practices follow all government regulations. The FDA requires labeling when a food's nutritional content is significantly changed or if the food could cause an allergic reaction in some people. But when an approved biotech food is virtually the same as its traditional form and its nutritional content is not changed significantly, the FDA does not require special labeling. This is the case with all of our products.
Thanks again for your feedback. We're listening!



Consumer Affairs Representative
ConAgra Foods
Case: 60496866

1-877-CONAGRA (1-877-266-2472)

So from this reply it seems safe to conclude that this popcorn probably is GMO even though this is not specified in the PLU code. And they can get away with this because "when an approved biotech food is virtually the same as its traditional form and its nutritional content is not changed significantly, the FDA does not require special labeling."

Therefore, the PLU codes are not the be all to end all. It looks like only products that are SIGNIFICANTLY modified will have this designation of "8".

dar n 11-08-2011 06:15 PM

This is almost identical word for word from my reply when I wrote Kashi about my bars!!! Good for you for asking. I removed most corn/soybean/canola from my diet its impossible to remove it all unless you never eat out or go to a friends for dinner and even my natural food store is clearly telling us that cross contamination of crops is so rampant in north america that even organic crops are being effected by gmo crops. I figure if we try at least maybe our little voices may have an impact look how many more organics are out today and its growing because people are asking for them.:)
Thanks for sharing.

VitoVino 11-08-2011 06:53 PM


Originally Posted by dar n (Post 61765)
my natural food store is clearly telling us that cross contamination of crops is so rampant in north america that even organic crops are being effected by gmo crops.

Thanks Darlene. I figured you'd find that interesting. ;)

I read somewhere that the requirements to be certified "organic" are very stringent, and the foods that receive this rating must also take into account cross contamination from GMO fields. Supposedly the organic produce must be far enough away that this can't happen. Yet it's still anyone's guess, isn't it?

Like you say, we do the best we can and shouldn't sweat the things we can't control. :)


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