In 1918 Food Inspection Decision No. 173, issued by the Bureau of Chemistry, U.S. Department of Agriculture, designated pea sizes on the basis of raw peas that would pass through screens of specified mesh sizes. These same size designations are still being used except that in practice today the size is determined on the basis of the canned peas. Since 1923 we have maintained the position that the size designation "petit pois" is inapplicable to peas larger than the No. 1 sieve size. The question of label designations of pea sizes was re-examined in 1940 (Trade Correspondence - 321) and our position was stated as follows:
"It is accordingly our view that the only label designation of pea size entirely without objection is a facsimile of the size actually present in the can. However, we will not raise objection, for the present, to statements in terms of sieve size, such as 'No. 2 sieve size', etc., since there is reasonable agreement and fairly widespread understanding as to the meaning of these terms. Where the canner elects to use size terms which are such on their face e.g. 'Petit Pois', 'Small', 'Medium Small', and the like, we believe that they should be accompanied by a statement of sieve size (or of average pea diameter in thirty-seconds of an inch). Other terms which have no clear size connotation to the consumer, and which may even give an entirely false impression as to variety or quality or both, are regarded as misbranding in the light of Sections 403(a) and 20l(n) of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. We have already advised correspondents that 'Telephone' is in this category, and the same would be true of such terms as 'Midgets','Sifted', 'Melting', 'Gems', etc."
"In our opinion, if the extreme sizes of peas are removed from the run by grading, the remainder could not properly be labeled as 'Ungraded'. For the present, and without prejudice to the possibility of a change in viewpoint should the expression be misinterpreted, we would offer no objection to the statement 'Nos. 3, 4, and 5 Sieve Sizes' or to the expression 'Mixed Sizes.'"
Concerning use of the term "midget", FDA field stations were advised in 1948 (Administration Information Letter No. 25) that inserting the word "midget" in the name prescribed by the standard of identity would conflict with the standard. We also expressed doubt concerning use of the term at some other place on the label unless such term was used on the smallest sieve size of canned peas and unless the term was accompanied by a drawing showing the actual size of the peas in the can.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has promulgated standards for grades of canned peas wherein size designations for peas are given. These size designations are "applicable to peas in canned peas" and size is determined on the basis of the diameter of the circular opening(s) through which the peas will pass or will not pass without force or pressure.
*Size designations in the labeling of canned peas are determined on the basis of the circular openings through which the canned peas will pass as given by the following table taken from the USDA grade standard:*
Diameter of Circular
Openings in Inches
Will Not Pass Will Pass
Pea Size Designation Through Through
Size 1 (Tiny) ------ 09/32
Size 2 (Small) 09/32 10/32
Size 3 (Medium Small) 10/32 11/32
Size 4 (Medium) 11/31 12/32
Size 5 (Large) 12/32 13/32
Size 6 (Large) 12/32 14/32
Size 7 (Large) 14/32 ------
The terms "petit pois," "petit peas," "midget," as well as "tiny" should not be used to describe peas other than size 1-peas that pass through 9/32 inch circular openings. In order to avoid consumer misunderstanding, the Food and Drug Administration recommends that these and other descriptive size terms, given in parenthesis in the above table, be accompanied by a facsimile of the size actually present in the can and/or a label designation in terms of numerical sizes given in the above table.
Size designations should not be inserted in the name of the food or used in lieu of words and statements required to appear on the label by the standard of identity and standard of quality 21 CFR *155.170(a) and 155.170(b)*.
*Material between asterisks is new or revised.*
Revised: 10/1/80, 12/8/88