Because confusion has arisen about the application of the provisions of 21 CFR 155.200 to canned sweet potatoes packed in sirup, it has become necessary to clarify our policy about the labeling of such articles. In 1968, some canners of sweet potatoes were advised that the standard of identity for canned sweet potatoes makes no provision for a sirup pack, and therefore, labels of canned sweet potatoes in sirup should bear a listing of ingredients in accord with Section 403(i)(2) of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act and *21 CFR 101.4*. At the request of interested canners and the National Canners Association we have reviewed the history of and past statements concerning sweet potatoes packed in sirup.
The standard of identity for canned sweet potatoes, as promulgated February 28, 1940, and at present, does not specifically provide for the original standard sanctioned water as a packing medium and sugar and dextrose as seasoning ingredients without requiring label declaration of these ingredients. The standard has since been amended to provide for additional nutritive sweeteners as seasonings. However, it now requires label declaration of the optional ingredients.
Although at the time the standard was promulgated it was generally known that sweet potatoes were being packed in sirup, the findings of fact, conclusion, and final order (resulting from a hearing) were silent concerning this practice. Following publication of the order no attempt was made to prohibit labeling of sweet potatoes as being packed in sirup provided such statements were not false or misleading. Recognizing the fact that sweet potatoes were being packed in sirup, FDA stated on September 5, 1940, (Trade Correspondence No. 325) that it had not had occasion to make any determination of just where seasoning leaves off and sirup begins in canned vegetables.
Again, in a letter to a packer dated January 1, 1960, we acknowledged the practice of labeling sweet potatoes as packed "in sirup". This letter states that "if a packer elects to make any label declaration about the packing medium, such declaration should not be false or misleading in any particular". Further, this same letter suggested that the USDA Standards for Grades of Canned Sweet Potatoes, promulgated in 1951, be used as a guide in determining label statements of sirup designations and the Brix measurements thereof.
We considered the possibility of establishing separate standards of identity for canned sweet potatoes, including standards for solid pack, vacuum pack, and sirup pack. However, we lack data needed as a basis for establishing such standards, and we do not anticipate being able to make the investigations needed to obtain such data in the near future. Until the standards of identity for canned sweet potatoes are updated or further announcement is made, our policy concerning canned sweet potatoes in sirup will be as follows:
No regulatory action will be initiated on the basis of canned sweet potatoes, other than mashed, bearing a label designation such as "packed in sirup" or "in sirup" when in fact the packing medium is one made by using water and any one or more of the optional sweeteners provided for as seasoning ingredients by *21 CFR 155.200 (c)(3)*.
The density of the sirup need not be declared, but if a specific designation such as "light sirup", "heavy sirup", or "extra heavy sirup" is used in the labeling such sirup should meet the "cut-out" Brix measurement as given in the following table:
Designation BRIX MEASUREMENT
Extra Heavy Sirup 30o or more
Heavy Sirup 25o or more, but less than 30o
Light Sirup 18o or more, but less than 25o
In Water Packed in Water
The standard of identity *(21 CFR 155.200)* provides for use of water without label declaration. The standard now requires the declaration of the sweetening ingredients. Therefore, label declaration of the sirup ingredients by common or usual name is now required.
*Material between asterisks is new or revised.*
Reissued: 4/16/79, 10/1/80