A federal judge ruled that the makers of Pom Wonderful pomegranate juice and supplements must stop making claims that its products can treat or prevent heart disease, prostate cancer and erectile dysfunction pending adequate scientific proof of the alleged health benefits.
The ruling came in response to a complaint by the Federal Trade Commission that Pom Wonderful's manufacturers violated federal law by engaging in deceptive advertising. In addition to the order that the drink makers stop making false statements, the agency also asked the judge to require that any claims of health benefits be approved by the Food and Drug Adminstration.
The judge found that several of the advertisements promoting the purported health benefits of several products interpreted by consumers to be true were "false and misleading," according to the decision.
The judge did find, however, that requiring FDA approval would be "overreaching."
But the decision also stated that several Pom ads were not deceptive, and "the preponderance of the evidence fails to demonstrate that such advertisements would reasonably be interpreted by consumers as containing such claims."
Roll Global, the parent company of Pom Wonderful, claimed several victories after the judge handed down his ruling.
"While we are still analyzing the ruling, it is clear that we will be able to continue to promote the health benefits of our safe food products without having our advertisements, marketing or public relations efforts preapproved by the FDA and without having to rely on double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled studies, the standard required for pharmaceuticals. We consider this not only to be a huge win for us but for the natural food products industry," Craig Cooper, Pom Wonderful's chief legal officer, said in a press release.
Cooper also said that the judge found only a few of the company's ads made misleading claims, and while he disagrees with that finding, he said the company would "make appropriate adjustments if necessary to prevent that impression in the future."
The order is in effect for the next 20 years.