POM Wonderful Takes a Hit for Deceptive Health Claims in Their Advertising

By Lacy J. Hansen for DietsInReview.com

Ads like this landed POM Wonderful in a legal battle for deceptive claims.The pomegranate. It seems like this fruit is showing up in everything. From juice, smoothies, yogurt, and even soda, pomegranate has made a name for itself. Many flock to the fruit due to the supposed health benefits. However, one of the most recognized pomegranate-touting brands, POM Wonderful, found themselves in court regarding the health claims they made about their top-selling pomegranate juice.

POM Wonderful produces several products, all containing pomegranate. The majority of their products are juices varying from simply pomegranate juice to a pomegranate tea. They also produce antioxidant capsules as a supplement. All of the products have the common thread of the pomegranate and the company's claims of health benefits from the red fruit. The court case was over the claims that the juices could treat, prevent, or reduce the risk of heart disease, prostate cancer and even erectile dysfunction.

Chief Administrative Law Judge Michael Chappell ruled in the case. According to CBSNews.com, Judge Chappell decided that POM Wonderful was deceptive in their advertising. This ruling upheld a previous complaint from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

In 2010 the FTC filed a complaint against POM Wonderful stating that their health claims were not backed by valid research. The FTC stated that the heart disease claims were false due to the scientific studies showing no benefits from using POM as treatment or prevention. The prostate claims were challenged due to the tests not being blind or controlled. The FTC took issue with the erectile dysfunction claim because the study the company based their claims on revealed that POM was as effective as the placebo. Expert witnesses took the stand to testify that the scientific evidence does not back the claims made in the company's advertising. Judge Chappell upheld these original complaints.

POM was ordered to stop all claims of health benefits gained from using their products, unless the representation is not misleading.

This ruling seems like a win for the opponents and a hit to the POM company. However, according to their website, POM is pleased with the ruling. The pomegranate company stated that they are pleased that their right to share valuable and scientifically validated information regarding the health benefits of their pomegranates with consumers has been upheld.

The thin line of a lengthy court ruling has both sides feeling pleased apparently. FTC is glad to have their complaints upheld and POM is glad to be able to boast about their powerful pomegranates so long as the statements are not misleading.

Seems there will be no shortage of pomegranate showing up on menus this season, like a POMtini. The wording regarding their health properties may be the only thing that changes.

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