Can a Brownie Be a Supplement?

Heather Granato, VP, Partnerships & Sustainability

May 16, 2011

1 Min Read
Can a Brownie Be a Supplement?

As I opened the Sunday New York Times before heading to my Bikram yoga class yesterday, I was greeted by a story on the front page (below the fold, but still) titled "Dessert, Laid-Back and Legal." (Click here to check it out online.)  The article discusses the inclusion of melatonin in a variety of baked goods designed to "promote relaxation" and sold through convenience stores, smoke shops and even bars.

While the consumers quoted in the article seem pleased with the products' effects, and the marketers rightly suggest many Americans are dealing with excess stress and also looking for something more natural than Lunesta, this tactic seems to be outside legal boundaries. In fact, Rakesh Amin blogged on this topic for INSIDER last year, when Drank received an FDA warning letter about the use of melatonin in a beverage, as the ingredient is not considered GRAS or a food additive (click here for that blog).

Personally, I'd consider a brownie enhanced with various nutritional ingredients to be a functional food, not a supplement. But these lines seem to be blurring, and regulators don't have the resources, and possibly lack the inclination, to work with industry to come up with some solid guidelines to allow the sale of effective functional foods and supplements with appropriate marketing and usage guidelines that don't make the products drugs. Interestingly, the NY Times also featured a huge article on functional foods on the cover of its Sunday Business section; no mention of the melatonin brownies though. Doug Peckenpaugh will be tackling that issue in the food & beverage community later today.

About the Author(s)

Heather Granato

VP, Partnerships & Sustainability, Informa Markets, Food EMEA division

Heather Granato is a 30-year veteran of the natural products industry, currently serving as vice president, partnerships & sustainability, in the Food EMEA division of Informa Markets. She is based in London, and leads efforts related to industry partnerships and broader sustainability initiatives for the Vitafoods and Food ingredients brands. She has been a presenter at events including SupplySide, Vitafoods, Food ingredients, Natural Products Expo, the Natural Gourmet Show and the Folio: Show. Her publishing experience includes Natural Products Insider, Food Product Design, Vitafoods Insights, Country Living's Healthy Living, Natural Foods Merchandiser, Delicious Magazine and Granato serves as the founding president of Women In Nutraceuticals, a global non-profit founded in 2022 focused on empowering women in the nutraceutical industry; she is also on the board of directors for the Organic & Natural Health Association. From 2016 to 2022, she was a vice president on the national governing board of Kappa Alpha Theta women’s fraternity. Granato was named to the FOLIO: 100 list of top media professionals in 2018, and was selected as a 2015 Top Woman in Media by FOLIO:. She received the 2014 Visionary Award and the 2018 Journalistic Excellence Award from the American Herbal Products Association (AHPA); and was honored with the CEO Merit Award for Content from Virgo in 2014. Granato graduated magna cum laude from the University of Richmond, Virginia, in 1992 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism.

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