Pom(pous) Wonderful Takes a Hit

The Federal Trade Commission filed a formal complaint this week charging the makers of PomWonderful 100% Pomegranate Juice and a related line of supplements with grossly exaggerating the health benefits of their products.

While it is no secret that PomWonderful has been self-funding the “$34 million in medical research” supporting pomegranate health benefits – apparently they crossed the line with a number of unsubstantiated health claims in publications like Parade, Fitness, Prevention and the New York Times, – namely that PomWonderful:

  • Causes a 30% decrease in arterial plaque formation
  • Slowed PSA doubling time by 350% in subjects with advanced prostate cancer
  • …and most shockingly – is 40% as effective as Viagra!

PomWonderful claims have traditionally circled around the fruit’s “antioxidant” properties. But not surprisingly, all fruits and many vegetables contain antioxidants. Antioxidants neutralize reactive oxygen molecules and prevent cell damage – so they’re good for you; but not so good you need to spend $4 on a bulbous bottle of unnecessarily refrigerated pomegranate juice.

Beta carotene (a vitamin A precursor), vitamin C, vitamin E and selenium are antioxidants that are widespread in fruits and vegetables – although the extend to which antioxidants play a role in human disease prevention is not entirely understood. If you’re fortunate to find pomegranate in its original form – the seeds are an excellent source of dietary fiber. One half cup has 3.5 grams of fiber in only 75 calories.

But really – there’s nothing magical about the pomegranate – except that the founder, Lynda Resnick, inherited a piece of property that had pomegranates growing on it and she wisely parlayed it into a multi-million dollar empire. She also acquired Fiji Water in 2004 – so, overly-priced commodity items packaged in fancy bottles is kind of her forte!

Kudos to the FTC for jumping in where the FDA falls flat. The PomWonderful complaint comes on the heels of an earlier FTC investigation on Kellogg’s “Immunity” claims plastered across their kids’ cereals like Rice Krispies and Frosted Mini Wheats.

To read the FTC’s PomWonderful complaint – click here. PomWonderful’s response (“Stop Persecuting Pomegranates”) is here.