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The FDA’s Crackdown on Lazy Cakes: Are They a Real Danger to Your Health?

People suffering with frequent bouts of insomnia will try just about anything to get some sleep.  We've all heard how a glass of warm milk is supposed to do the trick, or even how feasting on leftover turkey will get you headed toward sleepy town. But eating brownies to make you drowsy? Probably most people have never heard of that one.

However, the FDA has and recently issued a warning to the manufacturers of Lazy Cakes brownies that the melatonin in the sleep-inducing snack is not a “safe” food ingredient.

How melatonin works.

Melatonin is a hormone found in the human brain that regulates the body's sleep-wake cycle. When taken in supplement form, it is relatively safe for adults, but not so much for kids. Lazy Cakes contain about 0.8 mg melatonin.  Dosages over .3 mg are not safe for children.

If youngsters consume too much of the hormone they drift into a deep sleep. And that's what has the FDA so concerned. The brownies have a definite appeal to children . . . not only because they are a tasty snack, but also the packaging features a cartoon brownie on a purple background. What kid wouldn’t think that brownie was baked just for them?

Dr. Stephen Lipshultz, executive dean for children's health at the University of Miami's Miller School of Medicine, says “Most melatonin overdoses in children are not necessarily life-threatening, but they are associated with not only deep sleep, but also with nausea, gastrointestinal problems, changes in mood, headaches and other effects.”

Is a brownie sleep aid really necessary?

Other experts believe there is no reason for even adults to eat these brownies. If they want to take melatonin then they should take it as a supplement and forgo the extra fat and calories the brownies contain.

What do the manufacturers of Lazy Cakes have to say about all this? Kerry Harris, the CEO of HBB LLC, issued a statement in response.  He states, “We are taking immediate steps to address the concerns expressed in the letter–all of which stem from the way the product is packaged, labeled and marketed. We look forward to continuing to work closely with the FDA to immediately remedy these concerns and assure compliance with FDA's dietary support regulations.”

Calling for a brownie ban.

However, two Massachusetts towns feel this isn't enough.  They want to ban Lazy Cakes after hearing reports of children falling sick.  A two-year-old boy was hospitalized after he took just a few bites of a Lazy Cake and then fell into a deep sleep.

Even though the packaging states that the food product is for “adults only,” the cartoon brownie is simply too appealing to children. According to the American Association of Poison Control Centers, melatonin overdoses are responsible for more calls to poison centers than any other supplement or herb. The majority of these calls involve young children.

Perhaps the message in all of this is that anyone that is having trouble falling asleep needs to address what his or her body is trying to say. It's possible your life is becoming overwhelming and you need to make positive changes in your life. A brownie or a glass of warm milk is not going to fix that for you.

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