Pom Wonderful loses appeal of FTC’s deceptive advertising ruling
By Andrew Khouri
A federal appeals court has upheld a ruling that pomegranate juice seller Pom Wonderful falsely claimed in its advertising that its products could treat heart disease, prostate cancer and erectile dysfunction.
The decision Friday affirmed a Federal Trade Commission ruling against the Los Angeles company owned by billionaires Lynda and Stewart Resnick. That decision ordered Pom to stop “making misleading and inadequately supported claims about the health benefits of POM products.”
“The FTC Act proscribes — and the 1st Amendment does not protect — deceptive and misleading advertisements,” U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Sri Srinivasan wrote in the ruling.
The Resnicks helped make pomegranate juice popular by selling it in unique, curvaceous bottles and promoting its ability to fight disease and even, as one advertisement said, help consumers “cheat death.”
The ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, however, did not uphold all of the FTC’s order.
The three-judge panel said the company must cite only one “randomized, controlled, human clinical trial” as evidence before asserting its products can fight diseases.
The commission had required at least two.
Pom, in a statement, said that it was pleased with that reduction and that the company “has always communicated with consumers in a transparent, honest manner, delivering valuable information about the potential health benefits of our products.”
Staff writer Stuart Pfeifer contributed to this report.