POM (Not So) Wonderful Found Guilty of False Advertising

As someone who writes about greenwash fairly regularly, I wasn’t surprised bySkinny Girl cocktail’s misleading “natural ingredients” label or Taco Bell’s “meat taco filling” being only 36% meat. But even I was a bit saddened to learn that POM Wonderful, the makers of the pomegranate juice in the iconic hourglass-shaped bottles, has been found guilty by the FTC of false advertising. This is even more ironic since in 2007 POM sued a competitor, Purely Juice, for false advertising and misleading marketing.

The current lawsuit alleged that POM “disseminated advertising and promotional materials representing that daily consumption of POM products “prevents or reduces the risk of” or “treats” heart disease, prostate cancer and/or erectile dysfunction.”  It was found, however, that research does not in fact prove that consuming the POM Products has those benefits.

While not strictly greenwash, false and misleading advertising claims by food and beverage companies are always disheartening. This kind of deliberately misleading advertising erodes consumer confidence and makes healthy food policy even harder to enact. The bottom line is that POM made serious health claims and did not have the science to back it up.

The lawsuit concluded that POM violated the FTC Act that prohibits false or misleading health claims and POM has been ordered to “cease and desist from such acts and practices.”


2 thoughts on “POM (Not So) Wonderful Found Guilty of False Advertising”

  1. Is it really false and misleading advertising? It is dangerous to make any health claims that might impinge on big pharm profits, more info might be needed to make a judgement.

    1. Thanks Richard for your comment. A copy of the decision, research and expert testimony included, is available on the FTC site. And while I agree with you that big pharm has all sorts of reasons to marginalize non-pharmaceutical products, I think overstated marketing claims like POM’s lead consumers to mistrust non-pharm remedies in general and that’s more damaging in the end. I believe there are many ways to state health benefits without overstating them and POM should have known better.

      But, please decide for yourself! Here’s the FTC link: http://www.ftc.gov/os/adjpro/d9344/index.shtm

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