FTC Files Complaint Against Makers of POM Wonderful Juice
Pomegranate juice can do a lot of good things for your health, just possibly not quite as much as one company claims, according to the FTC. On September 27, the Federal Trade Commission filed suit against POM Wonderful, saying that claims its pomegranate products will prevent or treat heart disease, prostate cancer, and erectile dysfunction are false and unsubstantiated by the scientific evidence.
In its suit, reports CNN, the FTC hopes to ensure any further claims about the health benefits of pomegranate juice will become subject to review and verification by the Food and Drug Administration. The FTC is concerned that consumers will believe the company's products will provide a "silver bullet" against a myriad of health problems. "Contrary to POM Wonderful's advertising, the available scientific information does not prove that POM Juice or POMx effectively treats or prevents these illnesses," David Vladeck, director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection, told CNN.
In a statement made in response to the FTC's suit, POM Wonderful says it wants the government off its back. The suit is "unwarranted" the company says, and the FTC "is wasting taxpayer resources to persecute the pomegranate." POM Wonderful believes that oversight by the FDA would not be appropriate, because they do not claim their products work like drugs. Taking it a step further (or possibly too far), the company claimes the suit violated POM's "constitutional rights" to share information with the public. The company has also filed a lawsuit against the government to "preserve these rights."
The FTC cites ads by POM Wonderful stating that that their POM Juice is "proven to fight for cardiovascular, prostate and erectile health," are misleading when they claim the findings were "backed by $25 million in medical research." According to CNN, the FTC claims many of the scientific studies POM Wonderful conducted were either false, or did not show any of the health benefits that the company claims in its ads.
This was not the first time POM Wonderful has come under the scrutiny of federal agencies. CNN writes the FDA sent a warning letter to POM Wonderful this past February, admonishing the company for promoting claims more suited to a drug than food products.
- FTC: POM Wonderful health claims are bogus (Los Angeles Times)
- Fair Advertising FAQ: A Guide for Small Business (FindLaw)
- Advertising Mistakes: Lessons Learned the Hard Way (FindLaw)
- FTC Snaps Kellogg Co. for Misleading Claims about Cereal (FindLaw's Common Law)