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Fact vs fiction: Use sense in the supermarket

Here are some of the supermarket myths I often hear or see online and an explanation of the facts and truth:

Myth: Supermarkets reset (move things around) shelves and aisles to confuse customers and make them buy more.

Fact: Where items are located is dictated by planograms. Planograms are visual diagrams of how and where items are to be located on shelves and in aisles so that those setting up or stocking shelves have a guide to follow. If new items are brought into the store or items are discontinued the planogram would have to be altered, and this often results in a “reset.” Sometimes planograms can be altered to place items on a different shelf to increase sales. A reset means shelves or aisles are reorganized to accommodate new items or to group items together. All of this is done in an effort to increase sales.

Myth: You should shop the perimeter of the store for “healthy” items.

Fact: This myth has been around for a while, though store layouts have continued to evolve. The intent may have been to encourage people to buy fresh items, but in reality, fresh items such as produce can just as easily be located in the center of the store — they are in many new Ingles stores. Also, there are plenty of “healthy” items and good choices in the center aisles, including dried and canned beans, frozen fruits and vegetables, nuts, whole grains like rice, barley and oats.

Myth: The numerical code on the sticker on bulk fruits or vegetables tells you whether something is organic or “GMO” (Genetically Engineered).

Fact: The sticker you see on produce often has a PLU code. This stands for Price Look Up and it is a four- or five-digit code that enables the retailer to link a produce item with a price to make it easier for the cashier at check out. PLU codes are a voluntary system that growers can use. This means that you may not see a PLU code on all items. The only acceptable prefix to the four-digit code is a “9” which identifies organically grown items since organic items are often more expensive. There is no prefix to identify genetically engineered items (GMO).

Remember, before you believe something that you overhear or see shared on Facebook ... get the facts!

More: A perspective on poultry: Checking out the chickens

Talk to Leah

Leah McGrath is the corporate dietitian for Ingles Markets. Follow her @InglesDietitian. Contact her at, 800-334-4936 or at