The Food and Drug Administration is cracking down on Lazy Larry (nee Lazy Cakes), a special brownie marketed as a way to reduce stress and facilitate relaxation. (Lazy Larry bears a startling resemblance to "South Park"'s Towelie, but that's another legal issue.)
"Relaxing. It's what we're all about," the Lazy Larry website states. "We think the secret to a long life is being laid back and Lazy Larry is the way to do it. Easing you down with natural ingredients to help you relax. All this magic is baked in to put a smile on your face." No fishy implications there.
In a warning letter issued late last week, the FDA calls attention to the product's use of melatonin, a neurohormone that has not been approved as a food additive. Among other violations the letter describes, it states that the product is described on the Lazy Cakes website as having "the same ingredients your mother uses to make brownies." I guess that depends on who your mother is.
The FDA has threatened to seize the brownies, sold at convenience stores, unless corrections are made to the way they are marketed. The agency says Lazy Larry needs to be described as a dietary supplement, not a conventional food item.
"The sweet, chocolaty taste may encourage consumers to eat well over a recommended quantity of melatonin," Sen. Dick Durbin (R-Ill.) said in a written statement in May that mentions Lazy Larry (under its original name, Lazy Cakes) and similar products, Kush Cakes and Lulla Pies. "Consumers eating these baked goods may not recognize they are consuming a neurohormone, that they should consult a doctor before eating it and that it may not be appropriate for children, people with auto-immune diseases, or women who are pregnant or breast-feeding."
That scrutiny led Lazy Larry manufacturer HBB LLC to change the product's name and make adjustments to its packaging, but the FDA letter indicates that these changes haven't adequately addressed the problem.
"Your use of the term 'dietary supplement' in the statement of identity and your use of a 'Supplement Facts' panel for nutrition labeling do not make your product a dietary supplement, because your 'Lazy Larry' product is represented for use as a conventional food," Michael W. Roosevelt, acting director of the FDA's Office of Compliance, wrote in the missive.
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Roosevelt also states in his letter that Lazy Larry products are sold alongside other snack foods and have the appearance and packaging consistent with other brownies not considered supplements.
"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," Terry Harris, CEO of HBB, told Main Street.
It is unclear whether melatonin actually poses any health risks, according to experts. There is currently no recommended dose for melatonin supplements, but according to the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database, the typical dose should be between 0.3 and 5 mg. Each Lazy Larry and his friends contain roughly 8 mg of melatonin -- almost double the upper limit of a typical dose.
How about the FDA crack down on the fact that the cakes are marketed as special treats for Hessians too lazy to do their own baking? That's what's truly bogus about Lazy Larry.