POM Wonderful? Not So Fast, Says the FTC
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) claimed victory as Chief Administrative Law Judge Michael Chappell ruled that Roll International, parent company of POM Wonderful pomegranate juice, used deceptive advertising practices in 2010 by claiming its product could help prevent or cure certain diseases. In his decision, Chappell stated that POM Wonderful violated federal law by claiming “in some advertisements that their POM Wonderful 100% Pomegranate Juice and POMx supplements (POM products) would treat, prevent, or reduce the risk of heart disease, prostate cancer, and erectile dysfunction”.
In the order issued by Judge Chappell, he prohibited POM from claiming that their product “is effective in the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of any disease, including treating, preventing, or reducing the risk of heart disease, prostate cancer, or erectile dysfunction – unless the representation is not misleading, and the POM respondents possess competent and reliable scientific evidence . . . to substantiate that the representation is true.”
This is not the first time that POM’s advertising claims have been investigated. In 2005, Welch Foods launched a complaint with the Better Business Bureau’s National Advertising Division (NAD) regarding POM’s advertising practices. The ads in question featured the statement “Cheat Death…Eight ounces a day is all you need” and featured a noose around a POM Wonderful bottle’s neck. The NAD sided with Welch Foods and asked POM’s parent company to tone down its health and medical claims, which they agreed to do.
POM uses its own unique variety of pomegranate called “Wonderful”, and it is the only company in the industry which grows its own fruit. It supervises the growing and picking process from start to finish which they say differentiates their product from competitors. Other pomegranate juices, which include Purely Juice and Naked Juice, use imported pomegranates for at least some of their fruit supply. These imported fruit come from countries which have inferior quality control and exporting standards, according to POM.
Despite the FTC ruling, POM Wonderful it putting a positive spin their latest legal setback. Through its lawsuit against POM, the FTC tried to create a new, stricter industry standard (for food products), similar to that required for pharmaceuticals," explained Craig Cooper, Chief Legal Officer for POM Wonderful LLC. "They failed," Cooper wrote in a release.
Image Courtesy of Sara Kruhmin