At one point the judge said all of Pom’s disclaimers fell short of the guidelines. Goldstein responded that he thought it was a straightforawrd point. The judge told him “yes, but I think you’ve got it wrong.”
Judge Garland read part of a Pom advertisement aloud and said, “I don’t understand if you look at those two paragraphs how you can say that it’s not misleading.”
The FTC lawyer said Pom not only published misleading advertisements with insufficient and vague disclaimers, but the company also failed to provide consumers with information about studies that showed its product’s effect on erectile dysfunction to be ineffective.
“An ommission is a violation of the FTC Act as much as an outright mistake,” the FTC attorney said.
The case began with a February 2010 warning from the Food and Drug Administration.
The FDA told Pom Wonderful that claims on labels and websites related to the pomegranate juice, POMx supplements and POMx Liquid meant the products were drugs as defined by federal law. The FDA ordered the company to change the information.
click image to zoomIn September 2010 the FTC filed a complaint against the Resnicks and other corporate officers at Pom Wonderful, saying the company’s labeling, marketing and advertising related to health claims were deceptive and unsubstantiated.
The FTC ordered Pom Wonderful to stop making the disease prevention and treatment claims unless it could produce scientific evidence.
“When a company touts scientific research in its advertising, the research must squarely support the claims made. Contrary to POM Wonderful’s advertising, the available scientific information does not prove that POM Juice or POMx effectively treats or prevents these illnesses,” David Vladeck, director of FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, said when the FTC filed the complaint.