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Hold the trans fat! Girl Guides revamp recipes


November 27, 2008
By The Canadian Press

Nov. 27, 2008, REGINA, Sask. – Girl Guides of Canada has announced that starting in the spring, the chocolate and vanilla sandwich cookies that so many gobble up each year will contain 90 per cent less trans fat. But the group insists that the classic creamy taste will not change.

"Girl Guide cookies being a Canadian staple and a Canadian favourite, we obviously had to change with the times," said marketing manager Shauna Klein.

"We have been working with our baker, Dare Foods, for a couple of years on this formulation and we were all quite delighted when they finally came up with something that left the cookie uncompromised vis-a-vis taste and texture."

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It's the latest attack on trans fats, which have been shown to increase the risk of heart disease.

The federal government asked the food industry in June 2007 to voluntarily reduce trans-fat levels to five per cent of the total fat content of food products and two per cent of vegetable oils and margarine.

In January, Calgary is slated to become the first city in Canada to regulate the use of trans fats in restaurants. Eateries will be prohibited from cooking with fats and oils that are more than two per cent trans fat.

Ontario's government has also passed a bill banning trans fats in elementary schools.

The Girl Scouts organization in the United States announced nearly two years ago that it was eliminating most of the artificial fat in its cookies.

Klein acknowledged that the Guides have heard concerns from people about the trans fat content in their cookies. She also said it has taken "a little bit longer" than the Guides would have liked to cut the levels.

"It's very difficult to take an ingredient like that out of a cookie when you're producing it in such quantities. It's not like making chocolate chip cookies at home and deciding to leave out half a cup of sugar," Klein told The Canadian Press from her Toronto office.

"It's a much bigger deal. We had to make sure that the taste and the texture stay the same. It's very important. We know that these are an iconic product in Canada and people want that consistency."

Girl Guide cookies date back to 1927, when a guide leader in Regina baked and boxed up batches for the girls to sell to raise money for uniforms and camping. More than four million boxes are now sold each year to fund Guide programs.

Little else is changing about the cookie.

Eat two of them and you'll swallow 140 calories and a whopping six grams of fat, according to Klein. She also said Dare Foods is working on formula for chocolate mint cookies, which were introduced in 1993 and are currently on sale.

This is not the first time the Girl Guides have dared to mess with their cookie formula.

Alice Gaveronski, the Saskatchewan cookie adviser for Girl Guides of Canada, recalls the fuss in 2003 when the Guides switched to Dare Foods Ltd. after 40 years with Christie Brown and Co.

"We had some tasters tasting it and a few of the ones that were tasting were saying these cookies don't taste the same and they were very concerned. They had to do two or three taste testing things," Gaveronski said from her home in Regina.

"So yes, that will probably be one of the main concerns of our consumers and they will let us know if they're not tasting the same. They're really very adamant about them," she laughed.

Gaveronski conceded she can't wait to crack open a box of the new trans-fat reduced cookies – but the cookie adviser has a word of caution.

"This is not a full meal deal. Girl Guide cookies are a treat. You don't go and sit down and eat a full box of Girl Guide cookies."


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