FTC “Pomels” POM Wonderful and Other Companies for Making Allegedly False and Misleading Health Claims

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The Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC’s) recent enforcement initiatives on health claims may be heading for a showdown. On September 27, 2010, the FTC issued a particularly detailed 25-page administrative complaint charging POM Wonderful LLC, sister corporation Roll International Corp., and principals Stewart Resnick, Lynda Resnick, and Matthew Tupper with false and misleading health claims. The allegedly misleading ads appeared in national publications such as The New York Times and Prevention magazines, on various websites, and elsewhere. The FTC claimed that POM Wonderful’s scientific research failed to support the company’s claims that its products can prevent heart disease, prostate cancer, and erectile dysfunction.

In its accompanying press release, the FTC characterized the case as “part of its ongoing efforts to uncover over-hyped health claims in food advertising.” David Vladeck, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, said, “[w]hen a company touts scientific research in its advertising the research must squarely support the claims made.”

The POM Wonderful action continues the FTC’s recent record of enforcement against companies such as Nestle and Kellogg over unsubstantiated marketing claims about the health benefits of their products.

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