Watermelon with produce sticker on wood
What's The Point Of Stickers On Fruit, And Are They Edible?
By Kelly Douglas
Fruit labels seem to be everywhere, especially when you pick them off to wash fruit and they cling to your fingers, but many don’t know what they are for. It turns out that there's a good reason for those tiny fruit labels, as well as a definitive answer for whether or not they're edible.
The fruit sticker is called a "PLU sticker," or "product look-up sticker," which hints at how it's used. Each sticker has a four- or five-digit code that corresponds to the type of fruit you're buying, and when the cashier types in the code, they see the price of the apples you're buying. The codes originated in the 1980s and have since become universally used.
Produce stickers are regulated by the health authorities in the countries in which they're made, so the Food and Drug Administration needs to approve them, though it never specified them for consumption. Produce stickers are made of ink, plastic, and adhesive, all of which are safe to eat, but your body doesn't metabolize them, so the stickers move straight through you.