Does it matter if I eat the stickers on the fruits and vegetables?

I find myself biting into an apple or a peach, only to find I ate half of the sticker the store put there. Is there any harm in eating ...


I find myself biting into an apple or a peach, only to find I ate half of the sticker the store put there. Is there any harm in eating product stickers?

While the stickers on fruits and vegetables won’t hurt you, it’s probably best to remove them before you eat.

PLU stickers, which stand for “Price Finder,” serve an important function in grocery stores: they tell the seller how much to charge for that item. In the United States, about half of fresh produce does not arrive in packaging. The sticker is therefore the main source of information on the type of product and how it was grown. (Stickers that start with the numbers 3 or 4 mean the item was grown conventionally, and those that start with 9 indicate the item was organically grown.)

“Because product stickers come in contact with food, the intended use of these stickers is subject to pre-market approval by the Food and Drug Administration, to ensure that all substances that may migrate into foods from the use of the sticker are safe, ”a spokesperson for the agency said in an email. “As these stickers are intended to be removed prior to consumption of the products, the FDA review does not include exposure that would result from regular consumption of these labels. However, since these substances are of low toxicity, any exposure resulting from the occasional and unintentional consumption of a sticker should not constitute a health problem. “

The sticker has three main components, according to Ed Treacy, vice president of supply chain and sustainability for the Produce Marketing Association (PMA), the organization that invented the product labeling system ago. decades. There is the ink, which states the PLU number; there is the substrate it is printed on (usually plastic, composite plastic or paper); and there is the adhesive, which makes it stick. “All three must be safe for humans,” Mr. Treacy said.

Although the stickers are edible, they have no flavor and no nutritional value. And there is an environmental downside to not remove them before throwing away the skins, peels and other parts that you do not eat: Produce stickers are not compostable at home, so they will not decompose in the compost.

When it comes to making stickers biodegradable: “It’s a challenge our industry spends a lot of time, effort and money trying to solve,” Mr. Treacy said. “The challenge is the adhesive”: finding something that is sticky enough to stay stuck to the fruit or vegetable throughout the supply chain.

“For something to be compostable, it has to be made from natural ingredients – something that was once alive and is now dead,” said Jean Bonhotal, director of the Cornell Waste Management Institute. She explained that whenever you forget to remove the tag before tossing your banana peel, avocado peel, or orange peel in your countertop compost bin, these parasitic stickers contaminate the compost with tiny microplastics. which, in turn, contaminate the soil where this batch of compost is left.

One more reason to remove the sticker and put it in the trash before enjoying your fruits or vegetables.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Does it matter if I eat the stickers on the fruits and vegetables?
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