FTC Ruling Upholds False Advertising Claims Against POM
Lee Rannals for redOrbit.com – Your Universe Online
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) says that POM Wonderful has made some deceptive advertising claims, portraying its products as having unmerited health benefits.
The commission upheld a ruling by an internal FTC judge that POM was using deceptive advertising by claiming its products have been clinically proven to reduce the risk of heart disease and other ailments.
Both POM and the FTC have been embroiled in a battle for more than two years over this issue, and the latest ruling adds to the foundation laid out that the company is using deceptive advertising.
FTC commissions found that 36 of the company’s advertisements were deceptive, and an earlier ruling found false or deceptive claims in 19 advertisements or promotional materials.
The commissioners voted unanimously to order POM to refrain from making any claims that its products could improve a user’s health unless scientists had performed two randomized human trials to back up the claims.
In a sarcastic tone, POM said that the order should also require food companies to conduct placebo-controlled studies in order to talk about potential health benefits of fruits and vegetables.
“POM Wonderful categorically rejects the FTC’s assertion that our advertisements made any misleading disease treatment or other health claims. 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,” POM wrote in a public statement.
It also said it had undertaken $35 million in research to substantiate its health claims and that it would be continuing the battle against the FTC in federal courts.
“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,” the company wrote in a statement.
The advertisements in question appeared in publications like Parade, Fitness and Prevention magazines as well as online and on-product tags, according to the FTC.
The FTC initially filed a complaint against POM in September 2010 in an attempt to put an end to the company’s claims. This complaint by the FTC was upheld by Chief Administrative Law Judge Michael Chappell.
“Any consumer who sees POM Wonderful products as a silver bullet against disease has been misled,” David Vladeck, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, said in a statement last year during the judge’s ruling. “When a company touts scientific research in its advertising, the research must squarely support the claims made. Contrary to POM Wonderful’s advertising, the available scientific information does not prove that POM Juice or POMx effectively treats or prevents these illnesses.”