Don’t believe everything you read about miracle health foods, especially if it’s in an ad written by the company that makes the product. That’s the take-home message from a federal judge’s ruling against POM Wonderful, the manufacturer of POM pomegranate juice.
The judge ruled that the company used deceptive advertising when it marketed its juice as a way to “treat, prevent or reduce the risk of heart disease, prostate cancer or erectile dysfunction.” In the ruling, the judge cited the lack of sufficient scientific evidence to back these health claims.
One ad that the judge said made false health claims stated that POM is an “antioxidant superpower” that guards against things that "can cause heart disease, premature aging, Alzheimer's disease, even cancer."
The judge’s decision upholds much of a complaint lodged against the company by the Federal Trade Commission in 2010. The judge, however, did not find that all ads challenged by the FTC were deceptive.
In the future, the company must refrain from making more misleading statements, or face a fine of $16,000 for each violation.
While planning to appeal parts of the order, the company still saw it as a victory. “This is a significant win for consumers that validates the right to deliver important, scientifically validated health information to consumers,” the company said in a statement.