Obama’s Trans Fat Ban May Force Iconic Cookie Company To Close

Thomas Phippen | Reporter

The makers of Berger Cookies in Baltimore, Md., are concerned that that new rules will force them to discontinue their iconic cookie due to federal rules.

Under current proposed rules, companies will no longer be allowed to sell food containing partially hydrogenated oils, which contain trans fats, after June 18, 2018.

That rule will make it difficult for Charlie DeBaufre, president of DeBaufre Bakeries, to continue making the chocolate covered soft German-inspired cookies because the recipe contains trans fats. DeBaufre has not been able to create the Berger cookie taste without the using trans-fat-free ingredients.

“I have spent $10,000 trying to get this worked out. I am not a big business. I don’t have an R&D Department. I have to shut down production for a few hours, still pay people for labor, and then most of the product gets trashed. It’s tough,” DeBaufre told Atlas Obscura.

DeBaufre sells the cookies online, but it is only distributed in the southern Maryland and Washington, D.C. area, and the cookie has become a staple of Baltimore.

“Twenty percent of my gray hair is caused by that fear,” DeBaufre said. “I didn’t want some other Jack to come in and say, ‘Here is this new cookie of Baltimore.’ Not on my watch! I feel I have a responsibility to the city of Baltimore.”

The Food and Drug Administration released a final decision on the rule in 2015, giving businesses three years to comply with the change. Most large companies, like Oreo, Doritos, Hostess and have already moved away from using trans fats.

The Berger Cookie makes up 89 percent of DeBaufre’s business these days, and the trans fats play an indispensable role in the product. The oils make the chocolate creamy, allow the cookie to hold its shape in warm and cold climates, and prevent the cookie from crumbling, Atlas Obscura reports.

The push to regulate foods to be more healthy has drawn praise from health advocacy groups. “After years of advocating for the removal of industrially produced trans fat from the country’s food supply, we couldn’t be more gratified that this day has finally come,” Nancy Brown, CEO of the American Heart Association, said when the rule was finalized in 2015.

New York city banned trans fats in 2006 under former Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and city hospitals claim they’ve seen a decline in heart disease in recent years.

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