What Do the Stickers on my Fruits and Vegetables Mean?

by Nicole Graves on September 24, 2013

sticker code on an orange

What Do the Stickers on my Fruits and Vegetables Mean?


The other day, my youngest daughter asked “why do the fruits all have stickers on them?”  I went into a long drawn out explanation that was probably much more than she was interested in hearing, but nonetheless, it was important information.  

Yes, the stickers are a pain to remove, but  they serve as more than just a guide for the cashiers at the check out.   The codes on the stickers also tell you how your produce has been grown.  By reading the code, you can tell if the fruit was genetically modified, organically grown or conventionally grown with chemicals.

Here are some of the basics that you should know:

  1. If there are only four numbers in the code, this means that the produce was grown conventionally or “traditionally” with the use of pesticides. The 4 digit codes typically start with either a “4” or a “3” and the last four digits of the code simply indicate what kind of fruit you have.  For example, an orange may carry the code 3107. 
  2. If there are five numbers in the code, and the number starts with “8″, this indicates that the item is genetically modified produce. In theory, genetically modified fruits and vegetables trump being organic.  So if the produce is GMO it will start with the number 8.  A genetically engineered (GE or GMO) orange would be: 83107
  3. If there are five numbers in the sticker code, and the number starts with “9″, this indicates that the produce was grown organically (and should not be genetically modified). An organic orange would be: 93107

So does this mean that your worries about eating GMO are over?  No.  You can use these stickers a guide, but it is not required that a supplier use the codes.  Further, the coding structure was originally a methodology created for the retailing industry.  So if they do not want disclose that the produce is GMO, then they do not have to use the code.  I personally have never seen a fruit with a sticker with an 8 used in the stores.

So, if you are really concerned about how your produce was grown, buy from local farmers that can attest to their farming methods, look for items specifically labeled organic, or grow your own produce in a garden.

Whatever you do, don’t become discouraged!  Once you know better, then you can do better.   

Go to your destiny,


Nicole's Digital Signature

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