Fact check: No, product codes do not identify genetically modified produce

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Credit: Women Daily Magazine
Credit: Women Daily Magazine

“Want to know where your food and/or products come from?” asks a June 22, 2021 Instagram post

Identical posts, claiming to explain how to read the barcodes and PLU stickers found on products and produce, were shared and liked hundreds of times on Facebook and Instagram in June 2021. 

But the product labels do not work as described in the posts. 

Price Look-Up or PLU codes are used in many countries to make check-out and inventory control easier, faster and more accurate.

Major supermarkets have used PLU codes for produce since the 1990s. 

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Contrary to the claim in the social media posts, the numbers will not reliably tell consumers if an item is genetically modified. 

In a 2018 statement, [the International Federation for Produce Standards] said: “Though the ‘8’ prefix (83000-84999) was once reserved for GMO produce items, the prefix was never used at retail.”

This was confirmed by the Produce Marketing Association (PMA), a US trade association that represents companies working in the fresh produce supply chain. It says on its website that with an increase in varieties of fresh produce items available to the global market, more prefix codes were needed.

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Related article:  GMO breakthrough: Philippines becomes first country to approve nutrition-enhanced Golden Rice for commercial sale; Bangladesh next
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