FTC vs POM: persecuting the pomegranate?

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is suing POM, perhaps the best known maker of pomegranate fruit drinks, claiming that their ads for POM Wonderful 100% Pomegranate Juice and POMx supplements contain "false and unsubstantiated claims" about treating or preventing heart disease, prostate cancer and erectile dysfunction.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the suit is part of a larger effort by the government to clamp down on food ads that tout specific health benefits.

The FTC wants POM to change ads on its website and stop running the ads in newspapers and magazines. In addition, as part of its proposed settlement, the FTC demands that POM get approval from the Food and Drug Administration in the future for any ads that claim that its product "cures, prevents, treats, or reduces the risk of any disease."

One ad cited by the FTC says, "New research offers further proof of the health-healthy benefits of POM Wonderful juice." The ad says the drink leads to a "30% decrease in arterial plaque" and "17% improved blood flow."

The company says the allegations "completely unwarranted" and accusing the government of violating POM's constitutional rights and  "wasting taxpayer resources to persecute the pomegranate."

POM's owners can take credit for taking a little-eaten fruit into a product known to millions.

They also own Fiji Water and Teleflora, a national flower-delivery service.

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