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Girl Scouts calling this weekend
Peanut butter cookies safe to eat, officials say

By Linda Looney-Bond

lbond@news-daily.com

That knock on your door this weekend may be from a local Girl Scout.

Girl Scouts across Georgia are participating in "Walkabout Week," a week-long sales push that could earn them a new type of patch as the annual cookie sale heads into its final weeks.

"Technically girls have been doing this for forever, but we're making this a program where they can meet certain requirements and get a patch," said Stephanie Bergh, a spokesperson for Girl Scouts of Greater Atlanta.

Walkabout Week began Monday and ends this Sunday.

"It's a statewide program that we're doing with Girl Scouts of Historic Georgia. That's the other council in Georgia. There are only two now, with the realignment. We're the 34 counties that surround Atlanta, and they're everything else [in Georgia]," said Bergh.

Cookie sales are slow this year, according to Bergh, "due to the economy which unfortunately affects everything, including Girl Scouts."

"But we're still hopeful," she said.

Locally, however, sales are good for several area troops, according to Madgelyn Mitchell, service unit director for the Wisteria Park Girl Scouts unit, which includes eight troops and 159 Girl Scouts in northern Clayton County.

"For Girl Scouts in general, sales are down because of the economy, but for some reason our service unit hasn't gotten hit by it," said Mitchell, who is also a troop leader for troop No. 25509 in Ellenwood. "Actually our sales are going really good. We are well above our goal. Each troop set their own goal. For instance my troop set a goal of 1,500 boxes and right now we're at over 2,200 sold."

Anita Walton, product sales manager for Girl Scouts of Greater Atlanta, said the public should be assured that despite the recent peanut butter scare, Girl Scout cookies are safe to eat.

"The peanut butter used in our peanut butter cookies, which are Tagalongs and Do-Si-Dos, are not sourced from Peanut Corporation of America, which is the supplier recently implicated by the FDA in their investigation of the recent salmonella outbreak," said Walton.

"Neither of the two licensed bakers affiliated with Girl Scout Cookies, ABC Interbake or Little Brownie Bakers, source their peanut butter from the supplier involved in the current peanut butter warning," Michelle Tompkins, a spokeswoman for Girl Scouts of the USA, said in a statement.

Along with the Girl Scout Thin Mints, Samoas, Trefoils, Do-Si-Dos, Tagalongs, Lemon Chalet Cremes and Sugar Free Chocolate Chip cookies, Girl Scouts will go door-to-door selling the new cookie, Dulce de Leches.

"They're Latin America-inspired and they've got caramel chips and stripes in them," said Bergh.

Although "Walkabout Week" ends this week, Girl Scout cookie sales will last through the end of March, according to Bergh. Girl Scout cookies cost $3.50 per box.