May 23, 2012 — Administrative Judge D. Michael Chappell has issued a cease-and-desist order to the makers of Pom Wonderful, a pomegranate juice product. The order upholds most of a 2010 complaint from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), which accused Pom of making bogus health claims in the advertisements. Judge Chappell said there was “insufficient” scientific evidence to support claims that Pom can treat, prevent, or reduce the risk of many medical conditions.
Judge Chappell didn’t find that all the ads were misleading, but several claimed that Pom juice was an “antioxidant superpower.” The ads implied that the antioxidant power of Pom could protect a customer from toxins that “can cause heart disease, premature aging, Alzheimer’s disease, even cancer.” The ads also implied Pom’s benefits for treating erectile dysfunction, prostate cancer, and more.
The marketing branch of Pom Wonderful is banned from making misleading health claims for the next 20 years. If they violate any part of the cease-and-desist order, each incident could be fined up to $16,000. Judge Chappell’s decision is effective 30 days from the date of the order, May 21, 2012.
Pom may decided to challenge the ruling. If they appealed, the matter would be reviewed by a 5-member FTC panel. If Pom again disagrees with the ruling, a federal appeals court would review the appeal.
Not all provisions of the FTC complaint were upheld by Judge Chappell. In the future, the FTC wanted to require Pom to conduct scientific studies to support its health claims. The FTC also wanted to force Pom to get FDA approval before it ran ads for the next five years. Judge Chappell decided these requirements were an over-reaching of power from the FTC, and Pom will not be force to uphold the FTC requirements.
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