A social media post claims fruit stickers with a four-digit mean the fruit has been sprayed with pesticides. We fact-checked and found the claim has a missing context, hence Half True. A four-digit sticker on fruits means they are grown conventionally and may or may not have pesticides.
A Facebook post claims that a sticker on fruits with a four-digit number where the first digit is three or four means the fruit has been sprayed with pesticides. A screenshot of the post is attached below:
Does a sticker on fruit mean it has pesticides?
Can be. As per the IFPS website, a four-digit code on stickers shows that the fruit is grown conventionally. However, conventional farming means the seeds have been genetically altered using traditional breeding methods and are not certified as ‘organic’. It means the seeds may not always contain pesticides.
What does a sticker on fruit depict?
Stickers on fruits are a common practice worldwide that provides information about traceability, grade and prices. The International Federation for Produce Standards (IFPS) website shows that the number depicts Price Look Up (PLU) codes. According to the IFPS website, PLU codes have been in use since 1990 by supermarkets to improve the check-out and inventory control process. The website also shows that the PLU coding system is voluntary and has not been made mandatory by any governing body worldwide.
In India, fruits and vegetables with stickers are often considered premium quality. However, it is not the case. The stickers used by traders in India often do not contain any information except ‘Brand name of Traders’ or ‘Tested Ok’ or ‘Best Quality’ or ‘Name of the Product’.
As per the Food Safety and Standards Act (2006), no business provider can store and distribute food whose quality can harm human health. No evidence confirms whether Food Safety and Standards Regulations have set specific requirements for packaging fruits with reference to the adhesive on stickers.
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