Judge Says Pom Wonderful’s Advertising Is Misleading
Pomegranate juice lost a little of its pizazz on Monday when Pom Wonderful, the company that made it a best seller on grocery store shelves, was ordered to dial down its claims about the extent of the health benefits its product bestows.
An administrative law judge issued a cease-and-desist order after determining that the company had insufficient evidence to support claims that its juice reduced the risks of heart disease, prostate cancer and impotence.
The order will remain in effect for the next 20 years. It was issued after an Federal Trade Commission complaint two years ago, contending that Pom Wonderful had engaged in false and misleading advertising,
“The greater weight of the persuasive expert testimony demonstrates that there is insufficient competent and reliable scientific evidence to substantiate claims that the Pom products treat, prevent or reduce the risk of erectile dysfunction or that they are clinically proven to do so,” D. Michael Chappell, chief administrative judge, wrote in his decision, which was dated Thursday and released Monday.
He made similar findings for some claims Pom Wonderful had made about heart disease and prostate cancer and concluded that the commission had proved its case that the company’s marketing was false or misleading.
Craig Cooper, Pom Wonderful’s chief legal officer, said in a telephone interview that the company is still determining what it is and is not permitted to do under the judge’s order.
“I think this will allow us to continue making general health benefit claims,” Mr. Cooper said. “We can’t make claims for treatment, prevention or cure of diseases.” He said the judge had found that only “a small number” of the company’s ads were flawed.
The judge’s order, which can be appealed before the full commission, appears to place limits on even modest claims, stating that the company “shall not make any representation, in any manner, expressly or by implication, including through the use of a product name, endorsement, depiction, illustration, trademark or trade name, about the health benefits, performance or efficacy of any covered product, unless the representation is nonmisleading.”
The judge also ordered the company and its affiliated business, Roll Global, to submit its ad and marketing materials for the next five years and any complaints and comments about them to the F.T.C.
Judge Says Pom Wonderful