We have another case of false advertising on our hands, but this time it’s in the juice.
A recent article from CBS reported that POM Wonderful – maker of the popular 100% pomegranate juice – has been found guilty of deceptively advertising its pomegranate products when they claimed they were capable of treating, preventing, or reducing the risk of heart disease, prostate cancer and even erectile dysfunction.
The Federal Trade Commission’s main complaint with the company was that their claims were not well-founded or scientifically proven, yet they were presented to the public as such. The FTC feared consumers would be misled by their advertisements, which appeared in national publications both in print and online.
POM Wonderful’s parent company, POM, also found itself in a similar situation in 2010 after the FTC caught wind that the company was making lofty claims about their products saying they were “The Antioxidant Superpower,” and that they helped prevent heart disease.
POM wasn’t able to hold up their argument since the scientific studies they conducted showed no benefits from POM products in the areas of heart disease prevention or treatment. The FTC also found that the company’s studies were neither blind nor controlled, and didn’t show any conclusive evidence supporting the claim that POM Juice helped prevent erectile dysfunction or was any more effective than a placebo.
As a result of the lawsuit, POM Wonderful is being asked to bring a stop to all claims about its products’ proposed health and performance benefits as to not mislead consumers. In the future, the FTC will also require that their claims be based off of “competent reliable scientific evidence.”
In response, POM Chief Legal Office Craig Cooper, posted a very positive statement on the company’s website saying, “While we are still analyzing the ruling, it is clear that we will be able to continue to promote the health benefits of our safe food products without having our advertisements, marketing or public relations efforts pre-approved by the FDA…We consider this not only to be a huge win for us, but for the natural food products industry.”
Roll Global President Stewart A. Resnick, added that “POM Wonderful 100% pomegranate juice has always been marketed to consumers in an honest manner, backed by scientific evidence. We have always believed in the power of the pomegranate and are pleased that we will be able to continue to showcase the fantastic health benefits inherent in this wonderful fruit.”
Regarding the company’s approach to future scientific studies, Resnick said, “Our investment in research will continue as we seek ways to make a healthy difference in the lives of many people who enjoy POM Wonderful 100% pomegranate juice and other Roll Global products. We are committed to sharing what we learn about health through research with consumers.”
It looks like this is a case where everybody wins, even though a dispute was had. But POM appears to be resiliant and understanding and will likely move forward from this minor set back with a fresh, new perspective and a more honest approach to advertising.
May 22nd, 2012