POM Wonderful Hit with False Advertising Complaint from FTC

The Federal Trade Commission filed a complaint

Monday against juice-maker POM Wonderful, alleging that the closely-held company engaged in false advertising related to the health benefits of its pomegranate juice. POM rebutted the FTC's allegations in a statement later that day.

POM Wonderful, along with sister company Roll International, made "false and unsubstantiated claims that their products will prevent or treat heart disease, prostate cancer, and erectile dysfunction," the FTC said in a statement. Such claims were made in advertising in publications such as The New York Times,Parade and Fitness, in addition to the company's Websites, the FTC said.

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The 25-page complaint is part of awider FTC effort to crack down on what it calls "over-hyped health claims in food advertising." Los Angeles-based POM's claims that its juice helps those with heart disease are demonstrably false because many of POM's studies failed to show a benefit, while the drink's alleged erectile-dysfunction benefits are unproven because POM's study didn't show the product to be any more effective than a placebo, according to the FTC.

"POM Wonderful fundamentally disagrees with the FTC and believes that the commission's allegations against POM are completely unwarranted," the company said in response. "We believe the commission is acting beyond its jurisdiction, exceeding its authority, and creating a new regulatory scheme that attempts to treat our juice as a drug, which it is not."

POM recently sued fellow juice-maker Welch's over what it called "false and deceptive labeling" of Welch's 100% Juice White Grape Pomegranate, saying that less than one ounce per 64-ounce bottle was actually pomegranate juice. Earlier this month, a jury sided with POM in that case.