Judge to POM: Your Juice Can’t Cure Cancer, Stop Saying So


POM Wonderful, maker of pomegranate juices and products, has been ordered by a federal judge to stop its misleading marketing campaigns. POM’s health messages lead consumers to believe that pomegranate juice can treat, prevent or reduce the risk of heart disease, prostate cancer, and/or erectile dysfunction. While this may be true, POM did not provide enough scientific evidence. And as such, these health claims should be filed under SCI-FI, or possibly PHONY-BALONEY.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) sued POM in 2010, charging the company with deceptive marketing.

What you need to know:

To POM’s credit, their beverage is 100% pomegranate juice. Nothing else added. We enjoy it on occasion, simply because it tastes great. The tart and sweet flavor is an acquired taste, but served very cold it is just … wonderful. POM is great at design and marketing too.

However…the nutrition facts panel is not wonderful at all:

The iconic 16 oz bottle of POM contains two 8 oz servings. Each of those servings is 160 calories, of which 136 are from sugar.

The 34 grams of sugar per serving amount to over 8 teaspoons! Double that if you’re guzzling down the whole bottle, which most people do.

Each bottle of POM you drink, you’re ingesting 17 teaspoons of sugar and 320 calories!

There are plenty of antioxidants in POM, according to the company. Thing is, all fruits have antioxidants, not just pomegranates. So there’s nothing special about this juice compared to others.

But eating an entire pomegranate is not so simple. Peeling the rind, removing the albedo (white membrane), and separating the hundreds of arils (those juicy sacs with the seed inside) is quite the chore, and yes – the juice stains clothes.

What to do at the supermarket:

We should thank POM for bringing pomegranates to our attention. They are a lovely fruit, and do provide vitamin C, potassium, and antioxidants. Hardly any fiber though – one pomegranate has less than 1 gram of fiber, compared to 3.5 for a medium apple. Other fruits have more of some nutrients, less of others. All fruits and vegetables are good for us.

Fruit Juice is a different story. It loses much of the nutritional potency of the original fruit, especially the fiber. What it does for us is provide a highly concentrated dose of sugar.

If you are looking for a superdrink to consume regularly – go for tap water. As an occasional treat, POM is fine, as are many other juices. Choose what tastes best.

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  • http://www.thefrugaldietitian.com/ Nancy
    • http://herbalwater.typepad.com/ Dr. Ayala

      The wonders of spin

  • http://herbalwater.typepad.com/ Ayala

    Juice has a health halo, but orange juice isn’t sunshine in a bottle, and fruit juices are really just the sugar part of the fruit — without the fiber.
    And let’s not forget: liquid calories are different from chewable ones — they cause no satiety. Eating a pomegranate or an orange fills you up. Drinking their juice is most likely just extra.I do agree about the great taste, and that fruit juice can be enjoyed as a special treat. I put it in the dessert category — and then I’d rather have chocolate.

  • Karina

    I think we need to remember the distinction between sugar and added sugar. If my daughter wanted either a POM or a soda, guess which one she would get?

    Yes, we drink very little juice, and yes we cut it with water. That said, moderation in all things. I don’t want to freak out about the “sugar” in this juice because it’s at the very least not high fructose corn syrup. To me, it’s a healthier choice than a coke. Healthy? Not necessarily. But healthIER, definitely.

    • Gerome

      Karina, you think this is better than a Coke? It has more calories (160 vs. 97) same amount of fiber (ha ha!) but uses natural sugars. Yeah, I saw you cut the beverage with water, but really, better than a Coke is not a really great starting point.

      I think we need to be very careful of sugary beverages that become part of our daily diet — way too many people get too many calories from drinks that contribute to their overweight/obese conditions.  From a calorie perspective, I don’t see any distinction between a sugary natural beverage and one with some sugar tossed on top. And when my kids want a beverage, the choices are non-fat milk and water. They’re grown now, and none of them drink soda or fruit juice.

      • Guest

         I don’t know what is going with all the hype about non fat milk. People don’t get obese from drinking regular milk – eat and drink food they way it was planned by nature and stop modifying it.

        • Gerome

          Guest, I agree. But if saw how much milk my kids drink/drank, you’d see why we wanted to get away from that much added fat in their diets.

          • Good Food Dude

            Get your kids off milk if they drink that much. If you don’t do it now lactose intolerance will eventually!

  • Ms. Goodsense

    A good start, POM Wonderful being forced to cease and desist with dubious health claims. We need to stop all half-baked claims of “healthiness” of any foods. And we need to stop all unfounded claims of “unhealthiness” of various other foods. Food is food is food. All the spinning and hairsplitting amounts to nothing. Irresponsible blogs like fooducate prey upon this silly “healthiness” nonsense, just as POM Wonderful has.

    • Good Food Dude

      Wow, Ms. Goodsence, you work for the FTC by any chance? Or maybe one of it’s affiliates, USDA, FDA… You keep that thinking up and your doctor or dentist won’t have to worry about being out of work.

  • Georgeschloemer

    My resources say that one 4″ pomegranate has around 11 grams of fiber!?

    • Carol

       Sounds more accurate to me, too. I think some nutrition data tables show nutrition only for the “edible” portion, and since fiber is (more or less by definition) not “edible” or digestible, sometimes it gets placed in the “not counted” portion of a food. So, when eating a whole pomegranite, just chow down on some of the seeds and membrane to get more of that fiber.

    • Guest

       Found USDA’s nutrient table, showing 11 grams of fiber for a 4-inch pomegranate.  Nutrient values in this table are based on the edible portion (i.e., the 11 grams does not include membrane or peel). 
      A half-cup of the arils contains 3.5 grams of fiber, and the arils are all edible.  So the 11 grams for the fruit would make sense. 

  • Simba

    That’s predatory marketing as much as any fast food ad.

    Even McDonald’s doesn’t imply you’ll die unless you eat their food. 

  • Pingback: POM (Not So) Wonderful Gets Slapped Again by FTC | Fooducate

  • Emily

    Pomegranates are EASY to eat,…you just don’t know how. Done in a few minutes. YouTube it. Cut in half. Hold and spank it over a large bowl w wooden spoon while rotating. All the fruit will fall out easily!! To separate the white bits, you can pour all the fallen fruit into a large bowl of water,…the white bits float. Scoop them out and then drain the fruit. Handfuls of beautiful little jewels to eat. No time, No mess. Great taste!! Even chewing the seeds aren’t bad,…but not sure if there is much benefit,…is there? Anyone know?