Ads for POM Wonderful make the drink seem like it will make you instantly healthier. But the Federal Trade Commission calls the ads deceptive, and has told the company to take them down.
The FTC regulates advertising, among other things, and requires that all claims made in ads be truthful. For health claims, that means the company needs to back its statements with scientific research, which is where POM ran into trouble.
Since 2010, the FTC has been telling the company that it needs evidence to support its promises of improved health. That culminated in an ultimatum for POM.
The ads for POM Wonderful products claim that pomegranate juice helps reduce the risk of heart disease and will improve your general health too. One ad even says simply, "Cheat Death." That's what is bothering the FTC.
To make that kind of health claim, the FTC commissioner wants the company to have actual proof that POM improves health. In this case, that means having scientists conduct at least two randomized human trials to support the claims, reports The Wall Street Journal.
But POM is balking at that requirement. It's already appealing the FTC's decision, which would require the company to pull its ads.
POM has spent millions in research to prove its health claims. They're arguing that the controlled trials requirement would put an unreasonable burden on companies that want to talk about the potential health benefits of fruit and vegetables.
But burdens on advertisers don't necessarily concern the FTC. The agency is designed to protect consumers from false or deceptive advertising.
That doesn't mean things don't slip through the cracks. Sometimes a company manages to put out claims that the FTC later determines are misleading, like what happened in this case.
While advertisers should make sure that their statements are truthful, as a consumer you should still evaluate the truth of ads. If it sounds too good to be true, it might be.
There's also the problem of claims that sound good, but turn out to be untrue. In a best case scenario it's just an annoyance, but you could also end up injured because of false claims.
If that happens, the company could potentially be held responsible for your injuries. To get compensation, you'll likely need to pursue a legal claim, perhaps with the help of a consumer protection attorney.
The problematic ads for POM have appeared in Parade, Fitness, and Prevention magazines, according to Reuters. But the company isn't ready to take them down until they've had their day in court.