Danish butter cookies aren't bad for you after all, the federal government reassured the Deer Park Baking Co. yesterday.
But the Hammonton, N.J., bakery was told to forget about getting into Uncle Sam's cookie jar.
In a ruling that agency officials said won't set a precedent for anything, the International Trade Commission decided the American cookie industry is not threatened by imports from Denmark.
Danish bakers may have grabbed the butter cookies for themselves, the ITC decided, but the $11.5 million worth of imported Danish pastries sold here last year is but a crumb to the $2 billion-a-year cookie industry.
The commission unanimously refused to top the Danish cookies with domestic duties that would make the imports cost more, and presumably sell less.
The company claimed its butter cookie business was being gobbled up by the Danes, whose cookies were filled with secret subsidies.
Eggs, flour, sugar and butter all cost less in Denmark, thanks to a European Economic Community policy of holding down prices of farm products, complained the Deer Park bakers.
That's unfair, the U.S. Commerce Department agreed, and under federal law, the International Trade Commission ought to do something about it.
Sorry, that's the way the cookie crumbles, the ITC decided in a unanimous ruling.
The commission has yet to issue a formal decision in the case, but staff members said Common Market farm subsidies go into lots of things besides cookies.
The ITC turned down the cookie plea to avoid the broader issue, a staff member suggested, because the commission didn't want to bite off more than it could chew.