What is in this article?:
- Melatonin-laced Lazy Cakes: supplement or adulterated food?
- Not a dietary supplement
- Drawing FDA ire
- Do we need stronger rules separating supplements and foods?
One look at these "stress-busting" brownies, and it's clear they are destined to be viewed as a snack by consumers. And yet, the manufacturer labels the product a dietary supplement. Is this a problem for consumers and industry?
They’ve now been covered in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, NPR and numerous other news outlets; their strong effects are being discussed on message boards carrying names such as Grasscity.com; and now they’re even being considered worthy of banishment by at least two Massachusetts towns.
They are Lazy Cakes, a product sold in “head” shops, adult bookstores and some food shops, under the label: “The official relaxation brownie.”
Along with containing more than two grams of trans fat per brownie, one Lazy Cake packs 8 mg of melatonin to, as the company says, “create a sense of relaxation.” Other ingredients include valerian root extract, rose hips extract and passion flower.
When used properly and at recommended dosages (which, for an adult, is typically 1 mg to 3 mg), melatonin can serve as a useful sleep aid. But at the level baked into one Lazy Cake, this natural hormone can be dangerous—especially for children and teens, who are likely to eat more than the one-half brownie recommended on the Lazy Cakes label. In fact, reports are already surfacing of young children who have required medical attention after eating melatonin-laced food.
Terry Harris, the CEO of HBB LLC, the company that makes Lazy Cakes, stresses the product is not intended for kids. “We created Lazy Cakes to provide adults with a great-tasting way to combat stress associated with our fast paced lives,” Harris said in a statement. “Each brownie is clearly labeled to indicate that we recommend that Lazy Cakes be enjoyed by adults only.”
Yet, as the growing legion of Lazy Cakes opponents are quick to point out, the product may be labeled for adults but it is clearly designed to appeal to young people.
"Children are attracted to brownies," Caroline Apovian, MD, director of the Nutrition and Weight Management Center at Boston Medical Center told the Boston Herald. "I don't think it's appropriate to put herbal things that are actually drugs in brownies or food items that are attractive to children. I think that's heinous."
The mayors of two Massachusetts towns agree and are working to ban the products from the state. "It's clear to me that a young child would find it attractive and tasty, and it's got chemicals in it that aren't appropriate for kids," New Bedford Mayor Scott Lang told Reuters.