FORT LAUDERDALE (CN) - POM Wonderful pushes pomegranate juice by making unproven and false claims about its "special health benefits," consumers say in a class action. The class claims the misleading ads, which include the slogans "Cheat death" and "Pure science," are so egregious that the FDA called the product "an unapproved/misbranded drug and a misbranded food product."
Pom Wonderful has filed several lawsuits accusing rival juicemakers of trying to piggy back on its successful, years-long promotion of pomegranate juice.
Now lead plaintiff Mary Giles claims that Pom deceived consumers in an "extensive and comprehensive marketing campaign" that claims, falsely, that its products can prevent diseases and help people stay "young forever."
Giles claims that Pom has claimed that its "special health benefits" include "the prevention, mitigation, and/or treatment of the following: (a) atherosclerosis; (b) blood flow/pressure; (c) prostate cancer; (d) erectile function; (e) cardiovascular disease; (f) reduce LDL cholesterol; (g) and other age-related medical conditions."
The complaint continues: "This extensive marketing campaign goes so far that on Feb. 23, 2010, the FDA labeled PWP an unapproved drug and a misbranded food product."
(PWP stands for Pom Wonderful pomegranate juices, blends, teas and extracts.)
"Pom Wonderful's misleading marketing campaign begins with language on their Web site and other advertising stating that the product is health in a bottle," the complaint states. "Pom's exhaustive advertising campaign builds on this deception."
The complaint adds: "Pom claims that they have over $34 million dollars in funding to support scientific research, which implies that PWP delivers the claimed health benefits." It also creates the misleading impression that the products "are backed by science," though there is "no reasonable basis" to make the claim, according to the complaint.
"The Federal Trade Commission rules require that Pom has competent and reliable scientific evidence for its health claims at the time the claims were made," the complaint states. "However, Pom did not and has never possessed the requisite clinical substantiation."
Giles seeks class damages for breach of warranty and violations of Florida's Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act. She is represented in Broward County Court by Stuart Davidson with Robbins, Geller, Rudman & Dowd.