Be Prepared (for Coronary Heart Disease)
It's time for my annual rant against the Girl Scouts' sale of cookies with misleading health claims. I got the call from my niece today asking me to buy some of these cookies, and I can't turn her down. But that doesn't keep me from whining to my loyal readers.
As I've reported for the past two years, the cookies are advertised by the Girl Scouts as having zero grams of trans fats. But if you read the ingredient lists carefully, you will find partially hydrogenated oils in them all. This means they claim zero grams on merely a technicality -- the FDA's rule that companies can say they have none even if they have up to a half gram per serving. And they get to determine the serving size. This means that the typical real-life serving likely has a gram or more of trans fats.
Message to the girls: It's ok to lie to make a sale, as long as that lie is sanctioned by the U.S. government.
Trans fats are not in any way required or beneficial to health. They have been strongly linked by research to coronary heart disease. There is no safe level of consumption -- any increase leads to a corresponding increase in risk of heart disease. 30,000 people die each year because of trans fats. Therefore, the National Academy of Sciences has recommended that consumption be as low as possible.
In addition, trans fats have been linked to increased obesity, liver dysfunction, and infertility. Questions have been raised, but links haven't been proven, relating to cancer and diabetes.
Message to the girls: Making money for the troop is more important than the health of the customer.
Girl Scouts of the USA, I call on you to force your bakers to reformulate your cookies to actually and totally remove the trans fats from your cookies. Teach your girls that you don't have to lie to make a sale, and stop contributing to the heart disease and obesity epidemics in this country.
By the way, if you read the ingredients closely, you'll notice that partially hydrogenated oils are listed before cocoa, peppermint, and everything else other than flour and sugar. But they clearly don't advertising the cookies as having zero chocolate or zero mint.