Everyone has been to the grocery store and seen the various fruits with fruit stickers on them.
You might have seen the labels so often, that your eye skims right over them and don’t even bother to look at them anymore.
Here are 6 facts about fruit stickers that you might not have known.
#1 – Fruit stickers are edible. Not that you would want too on purpose, but if you did there will be no harm in that. If you were baking an apple pie and forgot to remove the stickers, no big deal. The stickers are edible and controlled by the FDA. The stickers would only be harmful if the label printer that produced the stickers did not follow the FDA guidelines and regulations and printed on a material that is not FDA approved.
#2 – The sticker adhesive and glue is controlled by the FDA. Label and sticker adhesives are covered under a regulatory law called “Title 21 Volume 3, Sec 175.125 Indirect Food Additives: Adhesives and Components of Coatings”
#3 – The numbers on the labels mean more than just a number. Is the fruit organic or GMO?
By analyzing the PLU (Price look up codes) you can see if the fruit is organic or GMO. PLU codes are 4 or 5 digit numbers that get printed on the stickers.
Organic Fruit Stickers
If the fruit is organic the numbers will have 5 digits and start with a 9, these are reserved for organic fruits only.
GMO Fruit Stickers
Fruit stickers with 5 digits and start with a number 8, are GMO fruits. 4 digit fruits are identifiers that the fruit is conventionally grown.
These PLU codes are assigned by the IFPS (International Federation of Produce standards) after a thorough review at the national and international levels. PLU codes guarantee that the grocery store clerk charges you the right price for the fruit you have selected and not cheaper or more expensive. The PLU codes also allow the cashier to ring you up faster at the checkout because they do not need to stop and verify which fruit you have.
#4 – PLU Codes are the same nationwide. This means that if you are in New York city and buy a 4304, and you are in Florida and buy a 4304, you will get the same thing, a lemon. The same thing for an avocado: PLU code is 4228, Apples are 4214, Berries are 4252, and etc. You can view the full fruit PLU code list here.
#5 – The future for fruit stickers, might not be fruit stickers at all. A Florida man has invented a way to add the PLU fruit sticker codes onto the fruits and vegetables with a laser etching.
Dubbed “natural branding”, the technique uses a strong light to remove pigment from the skin of produce. The mark is invisible once skin is removed and doesn’t affect shelf life or eating quality.
So far the technology has been used on sweet potatoes, and coconuts in the UK.
Stephane Merit, business development manager of the Spanish company behind the technology, Laser Food, says with millions of stickers used on food produce around the world everyday, the technology could make a “significant reduction in the amount of paper, ink, glue” being used as well as the cutting the energy used to produce and transport them.
#6 – A Dissolvable fruit sticker? – With advancements in materials, there could be a future fruit label that simply dissolves in an organic fruit cleansing produce wash. This organic fruit wash would remove the fruit wax, dirt and bacteria, while also dissolving the fruit sticker. The product is not on the market yet, but the inventor is offering a 10% share for anyone who helps him obtain the patent.