The Federal Trade Commission has filed a complaint against POM Wonderful charging the company with false and unsubstantiated claims. They make POM Wonderful 100% Pomegranate Juice and POMx supplements. They are charged with claiming their products will prevent or treat heart disease, prostate cancer and even erectile dysfunction.
The FTC says POM Wonderful violated federal law by making deceptive claims about their products. David Vladeck, an FTC consumer protection official said, “Any consumer who sees POM Wonderful products as a silver bullet against disease has been misled.” (Source: FTC.gov)
The FTC said these specific claims made in advertising are false and unsubstantiated,
- Clinical studies prove that POM Juice and POMx prevent, reduce the risk of, and treat heart disease, including by decreasing arterial plaque, lowering blood pressure, and improving blood flow to the heart;
- Clinical studies prove that POM Juice and POMx prevent, reduce the risk of, and treat prostate cancer, including by prolonging prostate-specific antigen doubling time;
- Clinical studies prove that POM Juice prevents, reduces the risk of, and treats, erectile dysfunction.
The FTC says the prostate cancer risk reduction claim is false and unsubstantiated because the research it is based upon was not blinded nor placebo-controlled; the research subjects knew that they were receiving the juice, and there was not a separate group of research subjects who received a placebo, compared to a group who received the juice.
Ad copy for POM related to prostate health states, “You have to be on pomegranate juice. You have a 50 percent chance of getting [prostate cancer]. Listen to me. It is the one thing that will keep your PSA normal. You have to drink pomegranate juice. There is nothing else we know of that will keep your PSA in check. … It’s also 40 percent as effective as Viagra.” (Source: Page 6, FTC Complaint)
In a scripted interview with people posing as professional journalists, one participant said, “I mean, it is the magic elixir of our age and of all ages, and we know that it helps circulation, it helps Alzheimer’s, it helps all sorts of things in the body.” (Source: Page 8, FTC Complaint)
POM Wonderful also claimed, “Drinking eight ounces of POM Juice, or taking one POMx Pill or one teaspoon of POMx Liquid, daily, prevents or reduces the risk of heart disease, including by (1) decreasing arterial plaque, (2) lowering blood pressure, and/or (3) improving blood flow to the heart.” (Source: Page 17, FTC Complaint)
The FTC stated no such effect has been scientifically proven. They are working to protect consumers by legally preventing the company from making such claims about their products in the future.
POM Wonderful published their own press release in response to the FTC’s actions. In it, they defended their research efforts, “For more than a decade, we have provided over $34 million to support scientific research on pomegranates, working with top researchers, including a Nobel Laureate, at leading universities around the globe. To date, more than 55 studies on POM products, including 19 clinical trials, have been published in peer reviewed journals. The results have been encouraging and many additional studies are in progress.” (Source: pomwonderful.com)
Adding an ironic twist to the situation, POM Wonderful sued Minute Maid in June, for false advertising.
Image Credit: Jessica May H