The Story of Tiny Stickers Pasted on Fruits
Sticker pasted on fruits is a usual sight in the market. We usually believe that fruits pasted with stickers are really of high quality.
We seldom care to read what is actually written on the stickers. But if we do, we will find that such stickers convey words like ‘Premium’, ‘Tested OK’. ‘Best Quality ‘ or some such words.
We pay a higher price to buy such fruits. But actually, pasting a sticker on the skin of fruits is a clever ploy of traders to hoodwink the unsuspecting buyers and make an undue profit.
Food Safety and Standard Authority of India (FSSI) regulates all edible products sold in India. However, many of us may not be aware that FSSI has asked the fruit traders in India to stop pasting the stickers on fruits.
Let us find the reason behind it. The suspect is the unseen glue at the back of a sticker.
What is the supply chain of fruit with a sticker on it?
- The glue maker supplies adhesive to the sticker manufacturer.
- He, in turn, uses the adhesive to manufacture stickers and sell them to the fruit trader.
- The fruit trader sticks those stickers on fruits and sells the fruits to the retailer.
- Then customer buys those fruits.
The adhesive is not a food product. Therefore FSSI has no control over the glue maker. He is free to use the cheapest chemicals to make the adhesive profitably.
The fruit trader buys the stickers at a dirt low price and firmly pastes those on each piece of fruit.
It is difficult to remove the glue even after vigorous wash when stuck on the fruit body. Eventually, the adhesive penetrates the porous fruit skin and contaminates the fruit’s pulp. When consumed, this may cause a health hazard.
Sometimes we buy imported fruits. Even those too have stickers.
I do not know what quality control US Food and Drug Administration exercises on the adhesive manufacturers. But one has to learn to read those stickers. This knowledge will help the buyer to exactly understand what he is buying.
The following are the numbers printed on their stickers and what they convey:
- If the sticker has a 4 digit number and the first digit is 3 or 4 (i.e. 4285), it conveys that the fruit has been sprayed with pesticides. It must be washed properly before consuming. (In the Indian market, we notice that grapes are covered with white powder. That powder is nothing but dried pesticides like DDT. But nobody warns us about it.)
- If the total number of the digit is 5 (i.e. 93421) and the first digit is 9, it signifies that the fruit is organic. It is supposed to be the best for human consumption.
- If that number has 5 digits and starts with 8 (i.e. 87396), it says that this fruit is genetically modified. It is the most dangerous of all fruits.
- So far, we have talked about the significance of the first digit of the fruit sticker. It could be an eye-opener to know that each fruit has a specific code number, as per the international standard. For example:
- 4167 is for a small delicious apple.
- 4166 is for a large red delicious apple.
- 4173 is for a Gala apple.
- 4129 is for a Fuji apple.
- 4011 is for a standard yellow banana.
To know more about it, one can look up https://www.megabakeenergybar.com.au/cracking-the-fruit-sticker-code/ and other informative sites.
Now, coming back to the Indian scenario, the local stickers fixed on fruit are misleading and hazardous.
Despite FSSI instructions, we still find such stickers on fruit are finding their way to the market and cheating the customers.
Fruit traders have mimicked the system of pasting a sticker on a fruit. But instead of being informative, those stickers wrongfully entice the buyers to buy those fruits at a higher price.
Please be careful.