Monday, January 18, 2010

Girl Scout Cookies and Food Allergies

by Kelley Lindberg

If you are related to a Girl Scout, know a Girl Scout, work with someone who has a Girl Scout, or find yourself anywhere within a half-mile radius of a Girl Scout, chances are good you know what time of year it is – Girl Scout Cookie time.

Everyone loves Girl Scout cookies. Or maybe we just love those cute little pig-tailed Warren Buffets trying every trick in the book to convert their mountain of colorful boxes into cold, hard cash. Buying Girl Scout cookies used to be a no-brainer. I’d buy a box or two from every Scout I knew, eat them, and then breathe a sigh of relief that I was safe from big eyes and big calories for another year.

Now, however, it’s not quite as easy, because I have to deal with food allergies. Fortunately, the mother of one of my pint-sized calorie pushers tracks down allergy information for me every year to let me know which cookies I can have in my house. This year, as usual, there are only two types that are safe from nut and peanut contamination: Thin Mints and Samoas. (Note that the Samoas do contain coconut, so if you’re allergic to coconut, avoid them.) Samoas -- yummy cookies topped with caramel and coconut, then drizzled with chocolate -- have always been my favorites, so that’s lucky for me.

Fortunately, the manufacturers the Girl Scouts use comply with federal law to label allergens. Here’s a link to this year’s Girl Scout Cookies ingredients and allergen warnings.

Sadly, all the cookies contain milk, wheat, and soy. None contain egg, though, so if that’s your only allergy, it looks like you can go wild!

It seems like the Girl Scouts add another type of cookie periodically. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if next year, they came up with an allergy-friendly cookie? Especially since this is an organization of, by, and for kids, who have anywhere from 3% to 8% chance of having food allergies themselves, it seems to me that incorporating a food-allergy-friendly cookie would be a big step towards continuing the Girl Scouts’ goal of inclusion.

I’m not the only one thinking along these lines this year. I ran across the High Tech Dad’s blog, where he is also advocating that the Girl Scouts champion allergy-aware cookies in their food drive. Their organization is so big, and their reach is so extensive, they could reach a lot of people and raise a lot of awareness. They might even find that they increase sales by uncovering an entirely new market for their fund-raising efforts. More importantly, they would include those girls in their troops who are allergic and who aren’t comfortable handling all those boxes of cookies they’re supposed to sell. Right now, I imagine a lot of girls have to sit out the cookie sale and miss out on the contests and camaraderie of selling cookies with their friends.

Until that day, however, check the ingredients labels so that you know whether you can order any cookies this year. If you aren’t accosted by a Girl Scout this year but you want to order some, let me know and I’ll hook you up with my cookie connection (who will ship orders of five boxes or more with free shipping!).

I’ve already placed my orders. I can’t wait!

1 comment:

MC - Salt Lake City, UT said...

any idea if Thin Mints are still safe this year? The labeling says yes but I'm leery after a pretty traumatic experience with my son last week with a supposedly safe product