PhotoThe Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), also known as the food cops, is taking on the Girl Scouts.

According to the group, “it's bad enough that the Girl Scouts of the USA sells cookies to raise money, but it shouldn't pretend that its new 'Mango Crèmes with NutriFusion' are nutritionally equivalent to fruit.

CSPI says the cookies at issue are 98 percent white flour, sugar, palm oil and dextrose (sugar made from corn). Yet marketing copy on the manufacturer's Website claims that its filling has "all the nutrient benefits of eating cranberries, pomegranates, oranges, grapes, and strawberries!"

Misleading marketing

In a letter to Girl Scouts of America CEO Anna Maria Chávez, CSPI says that by marketing these new cookies as a "delicious new way to get your vitamins," the Girl Scouts is misleading its young members and undermining their health.

Besides flour, sugar, palm oil, and dextrose, the remaining 2 percent of Mango Crèmes with NutriFusion includes corn syrup, leavening, natural and artificial flavor, corn starch, salt, and coconut, followed by "nutrients from natural whole food concentrate (cranberry, pomegranate, orange, grape, strawberry, shitake mushrooms)." Soy lecithin, citric acid, malic acid, and annatto color round out the list of ingredients.

A serving of three cookies has 180 calories, 4 grams of saturated fat, and less than a gram of fiber. CSPI says the tiny amounts of nutrients from fruit concentrate don't make the cookies remotely equivalent to fruit of any kind.

"The Girl Scouts should promote healthy eating through all of its educational activities, including fundraising," wrote CSPI's executive director Michael F. Jacobson and nutrition policy director Margo G. Wootan. "Sweet baked goods, including cookies, are a leading source of calories, sugars, and fats in Americans' diets."

"If there were a badge for misleading marketing I'm afraid the Girl Scouts of the USA just earned it," Wootan concluded.

Girl Scouts respond

According to a spokeswoman for the Girl Scouts, the organization and its licensed bakers are “very careful to ensure the accuracy and truthfulness of all statements made regarding all Girl Scout Cookie varieties.”

Michelle Tompkins points out that Mango Crèmes with Nutrifusion includes fruit derived nutrient benefits. “The Mango Crème,” she notes, “is not the first Girl Scout Cookie produced that includes a benefit associated with an added ingredient, or a benefit associated with a reduced or removed ingredient.”

Tompkins concludes, “all Girl Scout cookies should be considered an occasional treat and eaten in moderation.”

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