FTC: Pom Ad Claims Violated the Law

But Brand Declares Ruling Slamming 'Misleading' Health Claims 'a Huge Win'

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Pom Wonderful lost a battle with the Federal Trade Commission over its use of health claims in advertising, but the brand is putting a decidedly rosy spin on the news.

Pom Wonderful's advertising claims about the health benefits of its pomegranate juice drink violated the law, according to a U.S. Federal Trade Commission administrative law judge. The company made "false or misleading" claims about the effects of the drink, according to D. Michael Chappell, the FTC's chief administrative law judge in an initial decision released this week. The advertisements claimed the product would treat or prevent heart disease, prostate cancer and erectile dysfunction.

An order issued by Mr. Chappell bars the company from making any claims about the "health benefits, performance or efficacy" of its products or any other food, drug or dietary supplement, unless the claims are not misleading, and the company has "competent and reliable scientific evidence .to substantiate that the representation is true."

The brand's perspective? The FTC has "upheld Pom Wonderful' s right to share valuable, scientifically-validated information about the health benefits of its safe food with consumers."

"Although we disagree with the finding that some of our ads were potentially misleading, [Pom] will make appropriate adjustments if necessary to prevent that impression in the future," the company said in a statement.

Mr. Chappell did reject the agency's initial proposal that the company needed to conduct clinical trials, similar to what is required for approval of medication, to make the health claims.

"Through its lawsuit against Pom, the FTC tried to create a new, stricter industry standard, similar to that required for pharmaceuticals, for marketing the health benefits inherent in safe food and natural food-based products. They failed," said Craig Cooper, Pom's chief legal officer, in a statement. "We consider this not only to be a huge win for us, but for the natural food products industry."

David Vladeck, director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection, said in a statement that he is "pleased" with the ruling. The decision takes effect after 30 days unless the FTC or the company file an appeal.


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