The Federal Trade Commission has upheld a judge’s finding that the owners of POM Wonderful pomegranate juice made false claims about the health benefits of their products.
Los Angeles-based POM Wonderful and its owners, Stewart and Lynda Resnick, had asked the FTC to overturn an administrative law judge’s May 2012 ruling that the ads were misleading. They argued that the ads were not deceptive and were protected by the 1st Amendment.
The commission rejected the appeal, ordering POM Wonderful to stop making such health claims unless they were supported by two “well-controlled, human clinical trials.”
The company responded to the FTC's decision defiantly, issuing a terse statement that said:
“POM Wonderful categorically rejects the FTC’s assertion that our advertisements made any misleading disease treatment or other health claims. POM has always communicated with our consumers in a transparent, honest and often humorous manner, delivering valuable information about the health benefits of our products.
"This order ignores what $35 million of peer-reviewed scientific research, centuries of traditional medicine and plain common sense have taught us: antioxidant-rich pomegranate products are good for you."
POM Wonderful has 60 days to ask a federal appeals court to reverse the commission’s findings.
The Resnicks helped make pomegranate juice popular by selling it in unique, curvaceous bottles and
promoting its ability to fight disease and even, as one advertisement said, help those who drink it "cheat death."
POM Wonderful is one of several successful brands that the Resnicks control through their company, Roll Global. They include Fiji Water, florist network Teleflora and Paramount Citrus, which produces Cuties, the popular Clementine oranges. They are also one of the world's largest growers of almonds and pistachios.
Forbes magazine has estimated the Resnicks' net worth at $2 billion. The couple used their wealth to make a $45-million contribution to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, which opened the Lynda
and Stewart Resnick Exhibition Pavilion.
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