Look, squirrel! NY Times crack journalism takes on whether you should eat the stickers on produce

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The New York Times is widely known for left-wing bias in its reporting, with the exception of some writers and editors interested in pursuing the truth who tend not to last very long at the publisher. Now they can add uselessness to the growing number of accolades for the so-called newspaper.

Sophie Egan, a member of a crack commando unit of journalists at the paper of record, unleashed the results of some daring investigative journalism on Tuesday in an article entitled, “Does It Matter if I Eat the Stickers on Fruits and Vegetables?”

In answer to the question, she concluded that “While the stickers that get placed on fruits and vegetables won’t cause you any harm, it’s probably best to remove them before eating.”

This kind of profound discovery is on par with the thousands of meteorologists on TV who are surprised every time it gets cold in the winter, and dutifully remind us all to put on something warm if we’re going outside.

Stickers found on most produce are called PLU stickers, which stands for “Price Look Up.” Incredibly, they perform the function they describe, making for faster checkouts at the grocery store. A secondary purpose of the sticker is to denote that it has passed inspection for contamination.

“Because produce stickers have contact with food, the intended use of these stickers is the subject of premarket approval by the Food and Drug Administration, to ensure that any substances that may migrate to food from the use of the sticker is safe,” said a spokeswoman for the agency in an email. “As these stickers are intended to be removed before consumption of produce, the F.D.A.’s review does not include the exposure that would result from regular consumption of these labels. However, as these substances are of low toxicity, any exposure from the occasional, unintentional consumption of a sticker would not be expected to be a health concern.”

There is, however, an environmental downside to not removing the sticker for those who compost at home. Engineers have not yet developed an adhesive that will both work and break down in a compost pile.

Ed Treacy, vice president of supply chain and sustainability for the Produce Marketing Association (PMA) told the Times, “That is a challenge that our industry is spending a lot of time, effort and money trying to solve. The challenge is the adhesive.”

“For something to be compostable, it has to be made out of natural ingredients — something that was once alive and is now dead,” said Jean Bonhotal, director of the Cornell Waste Management Institute. She went on to explain that every sticker from a banana peel, avocado skin or orange peel that ends up in a compost pile contaminates the soil with microplastics.

All that heavy science notwithstanding, folks on Twitter had a blast with the tweet:


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