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Arkansas Bans Popular Lazy Cakes ‘Relaxation Brownies’

The Lazy Cakes “relaxation brownies” are making public officials anxious.

In what appears to be the first major crackdown against the snack, the Arkansas Department of Health announced that it is pulling Lazy Cakes off the shelves of convenience stores and other retailers in the state. It said that the brownies contain melatonin, a remedy often taken by people seeking relief from sleep problems but whose use in foods has not received government approval.

“Potential side effects associated with taking this hormone have not been fully determined,” the announcement said, while adding that the agency believes it poses “a potential health risk to consumers, especially young children.”

The Lazy Cakes website itself says the snacks aren’t for children. And the firm that makes the product, HBB, issued a statement that each of its brownies are “clearly labeled to indicate that we recommend that Lazy Cakes be enjoyed by adults only. We encourageĀ parents to check the label before providing this or any product to their children.”

Critics say the products are widely available, however, and are packaged to appeal to young people. As the Arkansas officials put it, the brownies are “individually wrapped with purple packaging featuring Lazy Larry, a cartoonish brownie with a big grin on its face.”

In one incident that raised concerns, ABC News reported, a 2-year-old Arizona boy was hospitalized after he took a few bites of a Lazy Cakes brownie and fell into a deep sleep.

The Little Rock television station KATV spotted a convenience store in Beebe, Ark., that still was selling Lazy Cakes Thursday afternoon, the day the state ban was announced. “People ask me all the time ‘IsĀ marijuana in them?” a clerk at the store said, adding that he would explain to customers that isn’t the case.

Previously, two Massachusetts mayors called for bans on the snacks. And, as The New York Times has reported, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has said that it might take action against companies that use melatonin as a food additive, although the agency indicated last month that it hasn’t decided whether that applies in the case of Lazy Cakes.

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