Members of Brownies Troop 71471 sell cookies Saturday (Jan. 24, 2009) at the Limerick Diner, West Ridge Pike, Royersford PA.

Members of Brownie Troop 71471 sell cookies Saturday (Jan. 24, 2009) at the Limerick Diner, West Ridge Pike.

ROYERSFORD PA – From Pottstown east to Collegeville, inside the Limerick Diner and other places where the hungry gathered, members of local Girl Scout and Brownie troops Saturday (Jan. 24, 2009) began their annual push to fill stomachs and raise funds by selling boxes of cookies. They had particularly good news for lovers of the scouts’ peanut butter treats called Tagalongs and Do-Si-Dos: they’re safe to eat.

None of the Girl Scouts’ eight different varieties of cookies available for sale this year contain peanut butter or paste suspected to be contaminated by salmonella bacteria, according to the Girl Scouts of the USA (GSUSA) national headquarters.

Tainted peanut products are said to be responsible for sickening 500 people in 43 states, including Pennsylvania. As of Saturday, more than 200 products made with the contaminated spread, distributed nationally from Georgia by Peanut Corp. of America, were being recalled and pulled from retailers’ shelves.

Scout cookies are not affected, scouting leaders said.

Neither of two baking companies licensed to produce Girl Scout cookies – ABC Interbake, and Little Brownie Bakers – bought peanut butter used in their recipies from PCA, and so are not involved in the current peanut butter salmonella scare, a GSUSA press release stated. “Food safety and quality are of the utmost importance to us,” it added.

On their own websites, both bakers posted separate notices attesting to the safety of their products. ABC Interbake pledged to “volunteers, parents, girls and customers of the Girl Scout Councils that work with us that the peanut butter in our cookies is not linked to the salmonella contamination.” Little Brownie Bakers said it was working “closely with all of our ingredient suppliers … as part of our goal to bake safe, great tasting Girl Scout Cookies.”

A platefull of Samoas and peanut butter Tagalongs.

A platefull of Samoas and peanut butter Tagalongs.

Customers apparently appreciated the reassurance. They crowded the enclosed entrance to the Limerick Diner, 411 W. Ridge Pike, much of Saturday afternoon, where members of Brownie Troop 71417 were offering free samples of their merchandise and doing a brisk business. Young girls in the troop, which meets at Limerick Elementary School, simply greeted diners with smiles and hellos and then their wares do the selling.

GSUSA reported “all of the proceeds – every penny – from a local council’s cookie activities remains in the area where the cookies are sold.” In addition to raising funds, it added, the sales help “girls practice useful life skills like planning, decision-making, and customer service.”

Photo of plated cookies by Sadaqah via Flickr