The Federal Trade Comission has charged POM Wonderful, makers of several drinks containing pomegranate juice and a host of supposedly healthful dietary supplements, with making “false and unsubstantiated claims that their products will prevent or treat heart disease, prostate cancer, and erectile dysfunction.”
The FTC’s deceptive advertising complaint came a few months after the Food and Drug Administration warned POM Wonderful about the same thing.
Both regulatory agencies cited claims like “30 Percent Decrease In Arterial Plaque,” “Super Health Powers” and, “Promotes Healthy Blood Vessels” in their complaints.
The ads in question appeared in Parade, Fitness, the New York Times, and Prevention magazines, on bus stops and billboards, on tags attached to the product, and on Internet sites like pomtruth.com, pomwonderful.com, and pompills.com.
“The available scientific information does not prove that POM Juice or POMx effectively treats or prevents these illnesses,” David Vladeck, the director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection told NPR.
For example, Vladeck explained, POM says its products are 40% as effective as Viagra. The FTC complaint indicates that the study referred to in making this claim actually showed the juice was no more effective than a placebo.
In its response to the FDA, POM Wonderful said its claims were valid and backed by scientific research. The FTC is “wasting taxpayer resources to persecute the pomegranate,” the company said. It added that the product research it conducted was “unprecedented among food and beverage companies” and that the FTC was “acting beyond its jurisdiction, exceeding its authority, and creating a new regulatory scheme that attempts to treat our juice as a drug, which it is not.”
A hearing on the FTC complaint will take place 8 months from now.