WASHINGTON The Federal Trade Commission has sued the maker of a pomegranate juice that touts health benefit claims.
The FTC announced that it was suing POM Wonderful for its "deceptive advertising" on Monday. Federal regulators alleged that ads that ran in such publications as the New York Times, as well as Parade, Fitness and Prevention magazines, violated federal law by making deceptive disease prevention and treatment claims, including "clinical studies prove that POM Juice and POMx prevent, reduce the risk of and treat [heart disease, prostate cancer and erectile dysfunction]." The FTC complaint said that the claims are false because the company either:
- Conducted scientific studies that did not show heart disease benefit from use of its products;
- The study POM Wonderful relied on was neither “blinded” nor controlled (to merit prostate cancer claims); or
- The study on which the company relied (for erectile dysfunction claims) did not show that POM Juice was any more effective than a placebo.
“Any consumer who sees POM Wonderful products as a silver bullet against disease has been misled,” said David Vladeck, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “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.”
The FTC issues an administrative complaint when it has reason to believe that the law has been or is being violated, and it appears to the commission that a proceeding is in the public interest, the government agency noted.