The Federal Trade Commission has handed down its final ruling against POM Wonderful LLC, saying that ads for the pomegranate juice made misleading claims about the health benefits of the drink.
The FTC’s ruling upheld a decision that was made in May 2012 when a federal judge ruled that the company used deceptive advertising in claiming that the drink could treat or prevent a number of illnesses such as heart disease and prostate cancer. The judge also issued a cease-and-desist order effective for the next 20 years.
POM Wonderful and its owners asked the FTC to overturn the May ruling, arguing that the commission’s actions violated their First and Fifth Amendment rights. The FTC voted unanimously against the request for an appeal.
The commission has also issued a final order that marketers for the company may not make any future claims about the drink’s health benefits without the support of two randomized, well-controlled, human clinical trials. The company is also prohibited from misrepresenting scientific evidence to support its health claims.
POM Wonderful said it will appeal the FTC’s ruling in federal court. The company said in a statement:
“This order ignores what $35 million of peer-reviewed scientific research, centuries of traditional medicine and plain common sense have taught us: antioxidant-rich pomegranate products are good for you.”
According to The Wall Street Journal, POM also said that the commission’s ruling was “taking the unprecedented step of holding food companies like POM Wonderful to the same standards as pharmaceuticals.”
The FTC’s standards for the health claims of foods and juices aren’t as strict as the Food and Drug Administration’s standards for drugs, but this ruling may set a precedent for other companies that claim their products have health benefits that aren’t supported by scientific evidence.