FTC Rules POM Wonderful Ads Are Misleading
Does pomegranate juice help you cheat death? Not without proof, according to the Federal Trade Commission. In a Jan.16 ruling, the FTC upheld a judge’s previous finding that the owners of POM Wonderful made false claims about their product’s health benefits. The FTC found that many of POM Wonderful’s advertisements deceptively claimed the juice effectively treats heart disease, prostate cancer and erectile dysfunction, allowing the consumer to “cheat death.”
POM Wonderful “can help prevent premature aging, heart disease, stroke, Alzheimer’s, even cancer. Eight ouces a day is all you need,” one company advertisement states.
Stewart and Lynda Resnick, the owners of Los Angeles-based Pom Wonderful, had asked the FTC to overturn a court’s May 2012 ruling that its ads misled customers. They argued their ads were protected by the First Amendment.
The FTC rejected the appeal 5-0 and in a 54-page opinion ordered POM Wonderful to stop making health claims in its ads unless it could prove them with two “well-controlled, human clinical trials,” a similar standard the commission uses when approving new drugs.
Still, one commissioner expressed her concern the opinion could set a precedent for future rulings by blurring the line between structure/function claims and specific disease-related claims.
“It’s difficult to imagine any structure/function claims that POM could associate with its products in the marketplace without such claims being interpreted, under the FTC precedent set in this case, as disease-related claims,” Maureen Ohihausen wrote in comments accompanying the majority opinion.
The Resnicks rejected the commission’s ruling. They have 50 days to ask a federal appeals court to reverse the FTC’s findings.
“POM Wonderful categorically rejects the FTC’s assertion that our advertisements made any misleading disease treatment or other health claims,” the company said in a statement. “POM has always communicated with our consumers in a transparent, honest and often humorous manner, delivering valuable information about the health benefits of our products.
“This order ignores what $35 million of peer-reviewed scientific research, centuries of traditional medicine and plain common sense have taught us: antioxidant-rich pomegranate products are good for you.”
[Image via Eurofruit, Asiafruit & Americafruit/Flickr]
I want more stuff like this!