The FDA may soon kill off the world's most delicious dessert—Baltimore's own Berger Cookies. Please believe I make this claim as one who is not otherwise overly enamored of sweets.
For those who haven't had the pleasure, we're talking fudge slathered over a shortbread cookie to rapturous effect.
If you are one who feels another dessert has a better claim to distinction, know that it doesn't matter. Whatever you're into will be banned too if it contains artificial trans fats, which the FDA may decide to outlaw as soon as January.
Berger Cookies, whose recipe has been only slightly modified since the 1830s, are obviously not healthy. But they are one of life's little pleasures, and the law that criminalizes them is an ass. A tremendous, giant donkey and/or posterior. Of evil.
Via Capital News Service:
In the past two weeks, the Berger Cookie bakery has made two attempts to produce the cookies without trans fat, said owner and president Charles DeBaufre, Jr. The result was discouraging, he said.
"We've tried it and trust me, it is nasty. It doesn't taste right," DeBaufre said. "The texture's not there. It's an entirely different product."
Trans fats are essential to the taste and flavor of the cookie, DeBaufre said. If the ban goes into effect, he said he would apply for an exception. If the bakery is denied an exception, he said he would continue to test out new recipes or "go out of business, one of the two."
As Baylen Linneken noted earlier this month, the FDA claims a ban may prevent between 3,000 and 7,000 deaths from heart disease each year. But evidence for this proposition is equivocal at best. New York City banned trans fats in 2006, and the heart disease mortality rate fell. But, says Linneken, it fell faster in the rest of the country—where trans fats are still freely available—over the same period.
The FDA further claims the benefits of prohibiting trans fats would dwarf the costs. But there is no way they could know that. As they acknowledge (PDF), their estimates do not include losses to consumers who find themselves unable to obtain foods they once enjoyed.
This loss will be particularly acute for those who live near or hail from Baltimore, where Berger Cookies are a revered commodity. But the ban will also affect frozen pizzas, microwave popcorn, donuts, and no doubt other local amuse-bouches.
The nation already has an ample supply of actual, terrifying public health crises like antibiotic-resistant bacteria and critical drug shortages. It would be nice if the agency that professes to protect us from such perils would leave. The cookies. Alone. People can decide what to eat for themselves.
The FDA is accepting public comments through January 7th.