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FTC issues final ruling against POM Wonderful

Agency upholds decision finding juice maker’s ads are misleading

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) doesn’t think POM Wonderful is so wonderful.

Yesterday, the regulatory agency upheld a judge’s earlier decision against POM Wonderful, finding that the pomegranate juice maker’s advertisements mislead consumers about its products’ health benefits.

The FTC filed a complaint against POM and its parent company, Roll International Corp., in September 2010. In May 2011, a judge found that the company used deceptive advertising when it claimed its juice could treat or prevent certain illnesses. POM asked the FTC to overturn the ruling, but yesterday, the commission voted unanimously against the company’s appeal request and issued a final order barring POM from claiming its juice is “effective in the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of any disease, including heart disease, prostate cancer, and erectile dysfunction.”

POM plans to appeal the ruling. “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,” POM said in a statement.

The FTC’s decision could affect other food and beverage makers because of its requirement that POM’s claims be backed by two randomized, controlled clinical trials—the same type of proof the Food and Drug Administration requires from pharmaceutical companies seeking approval for new drugs.

Read Bloomberg Businessweek and the Wall Street Journal more about the FTC’s decision against POM.

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