Pom Wonderful, America's preeminent distributor of pomegranate juice in adorable, bubbly bottles, can't claim its product helps fight certain diseases. The Supreme Court of the United States on Monday declined to hear Pom's appeal to a Washington, D.C., judge's ruling related to some of the company's advertisements. The decision stands as a win for the Federal Trade Commission, which found Pom Wonderful guilty of false advertising in 2013.
The FTC originally issued a complaint related to Pom's ads in 2010, taking issue with the company's claims that its pomegranate juice could treat, prevent, or reduce the risk of heart disease, prostate cancer, and erectile dysfunction. Three years later, the government agency issued a cease-and-desist order regarding 36 specific ads, unless the company could substantiate the aforementioned claims with independent, peer-reviewed studies. The Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit upheld the FTC's decision in January 2015.
"I am pleased that the Pom Wonderful case has been brought to a successful conclusion," FTC chairwoman Edith Ramirez said in a prepared statement Monday. "The outcome of this case makes clear that companies like Pom making serious health claims about food and nutritional supplement products must have rigorous scientific evidence to back them up. Consumers deserve no less."
Pom says only a small portion of its marketing campaign will be affected. Despite the Supreme Court's decision, the pomegranate juice purveyor remains upbeat about its other advertisements and health claims.
"Pom Wonderful is committed to honest, transparent communication with consumers everywhere, and while the FTC questioned only 36 of our nearly 600 ads, we continue to stand behind our efforts to publicly convey valuable information about the health benefits of Pom, as well as the $40 million in peer-reviewed, scientific research we've conducted regarding the power of this amazing fresh fruit," Steven Clark, Pom Wonderful vice president of corporate communications, said in an email to Eater.
Monday was a tough day for food brands making allegedly unsubstantiated claims. A lawsuit was filed against Quaker Oats related to pesticides being found in the company's "100 percent natural" oatmeal, and Starbucks is facing a lawsuit that states the coffee giant's 12 ounce iced beverages are underfilled.