Does it matter if you eat stickers on fruits and vegetables?

In this brief guide, we will answer the query,” Does it matter if you eat stickers on fruits and vegetables?”. We will also talk more about what stickers are made of, why the producers and sellers put stickers, and how to wash and clean fruit and vegetables.

Does it matter if you eat stickers on fruits and vegetables?

Eating the sticker that comes with the fruit and vegetables does not cause any health risk. It is okay to sometimes consume the stickers unknowingly as the stickers are edible. 

Even though they are edible, it doesn’t mean that you should be eating them without removing them before consuming the fruit and vegetables. 

According to the US Food and Drugs Administration, all the components that comprise the stickers pose no threat to human health if ingested occasionally. 

The ink, the printing material, and the adhesive used to stick them do not contain any toxins that are harmful if consumed.

What do stickers in fruit and vegetables mean?

The stickers on the fruit and vegetables are not just there to look pretty, they do contain a lot of useful and important information regarding the produce in the form of numbers and barcodes.

The numbers are called the PLU or Price Look Up codes which are four to five digits numbers that help identify the produce including size, growing method, type of food, and variety. It also tells the price of the fruit and vegetable for the seller to make it easy for them to know the price.

The product stickers were first used on a large scale by a producer named Tom Mathison, founder of Stemilt Growers. The use of PLU codes on stickers for fruit and vegetables has been in use since the 1990s.

What are the stickers on fruit and vegetables made of?

The conventional fruit stickers are made of either paper composite, plastic, or paper which are printed with printing ink and an adhesive is used to stick them to the fruit and vegetables. The USFDA claims that all three components do not pose a threat to human health.

The FDA claims that the stickers are edible and are okay if eaten unknowingly. There are no notable toxins present in all the components comprising the stickers. There are a few new innovations happening and a few are already in use with regard to edible stickers. 

Are stickers biodegradable?

No, the stickers that are being used in the fruits and vegetables that are available in the market are not biodegradable nor are they compostable. 

The stickers are either made up of plastic or paper that has been covered by plastic to avoid the damage caused by moisture, the handling, storing and processing of the fruit and vegetables.

It is really important to remove the stickers from the fruits and vegetables before consuming them for the benefit of your health and the health of the soil. 

The pieces of stickers are so tiny to remove from the overall rubbish collected for processing to make compost that microplastics are present in the compost that degrades the soil quality.

There have been trials and testing of the biodegradable stickers and also laser printing of the PLUs in the rind or skin of the fruit and vegetable but has not come across to a definitive use.

How to properly wash and clean fruit and vegetables?

The fresh fruit and vegetables need to be properly washed and cleaned after removing the stickers before consumption. 

The amount of contamination from bacteria and other pathogens in the fruit and vegetables is imminent as they are harvested, passed through many hands during processing, packaging, placed on the store shelves, and finally to the consumer.

Proper washing and cleaning need to be done before the preparation of the fruits and vegetables to avoid the risk of health risks related to contamination.

The USFDA has outlined a few recommendations to follow to avoid contamination.

  • Wash the hands with warm water and soap for 20 seconds before handling the fruit and vegetables.
  • If there is bruising or damage before eating or handling, cut away the damaged areas before preparing or eating.
  • Rinse before peeling the produce to avoid dirt or pathogens being transferred from the knife onto the fruit and vegetable.
  • Gently rub produce while running under plain clean water. Use a clean vegetable brush to scrub firm produce like melons and cucumbers.
  • Remove the outermost leaves of a head of lettuce or cabbage.

Conclusion

In this brief guide, we answered the query,” Does it matter if you eat stickers on fruits and vegetables?”. We also talked more about what stickers are made of, why the producers and sellers put stickers, and how to wash and clean fruit and vegetables.

I hope you find this blog useful. If you have any questions, please let us know.

References

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/11/16/well/eat/stickers-fruits-vegetables.html#:~:text=While%20the%20stickers%20that%20 get,to%20charge%20for%20that%20item

https://www.fda.gov/consumers/consumer-updates/7-tips-cleaning-fruits-vegetables

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