POM (Not So) Wonderful Gets Slapped Again by FTC

POM Cheat Death Ad

Last week, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) upheld an Administrative Law Judge’s decision from May 2012, that the marketers of POM Wonderful Pomegranate Juice and  supplements used deceptive advertising to market their products: The company did not have adequate support for claims that the products could treat, prevent, or reduce the risk of heart disease, prostate cancer, and erectile dysfunction, and that they were clinically proven to work.

POM is upset, and plans to sue the FTC. The company has spent $35 million in research to prove that the antioxidants in pomegranates have superpowers, according to the health section of POM’s website. Here’s a link to the research. The money was spent at universities that ran clinical studies that showed that people who consumed daily doses of pomegranate juice got better in certain health parameters.

What you need to know:

Here’s the thing: a similar study can be conducted on any fruit – strawberry, blueberry, apple, etc… and yield wonderful results. But if a company wants to claim it cures diseases with a food, its research must be scrutinized similarly to that of drugs. POM does not pass such scrutiny.

To POM’s credit, their juice is 100% pomegranate, with nothing else added. But the nutrition facts panel reveals much more sugar than you would think, 34 grams per serving. That’s 8 teaspoons worth!

Wait, it gets better, because each time you drink POM, you are guzzling down 2 servings! That’s because the most popular bottle of POM (pictured above) actually contains two 8 oz servings.

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

Unlike eating a real fruit, there is no fiber in POM Wonderful juice. It has zero vitamin C, vitamin A, calcium, and iron too.

The main advantage of a pomegranate juice is not having to deal with the pomegranate, a messy affair by all counts: Peeling the rind, removing the albedo (white membrane), and separating the hundreds of arils (those juicy sacs with the seed inside) is quite a chore, not to mention the juice stains on your blouse and tablecloth. A real pomegranate has 38 grams of sugar (vs 34), but 11 grams of fiber (vs zero), and 48% of the daily value of vitamin C (vs zero).

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. 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 gain is a very concentrated dose of sugar.

So, if you are looking for a superdrink to consume regularly – go for tap water. As an occasional treat, virtually any juice is fine, but then again so are soft drinks. If you like POM’s  sweet+tart flavor combo, as we do, by all means enjoy.

Just don’t let excellent marketing confuse you into thinking you’re going to cheat death.

POM Wonderful is graded by Fooducate

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  • Yvette

    If you love “pommies” as we do, the best way to buy them is fresh and peel. The best way to peel is under a bowl of water. Its super fast and the red juice doesn’t stain your countertops. Go to YouTube and search or check it out here: http://www.vitamedica.com/pomegranates/

  • Jack

    mmmmm a companies advertising and public behaviour says a lot about them. I guess those at the top at PomWonderful just think they are above the law. Also, all the time the profit is favourable they will feel justified in their “we can do what we like” approach. I have no issue with profit (= jobs, = good economy, = better society) but there are those that just ruin it for everybody else, erode trust. Authorities really need to make an example of these guys. An eventual “ok, I don’t agree but I’ll stop running the misleading ads….thanks” is just not good enough.

  • Ed

    I’m confused. In one paragraph you say a pomegranate has 11 grams of fiber, but then you say it has less than 1 gram. Could you clarify?

    • http://www.fooducate.com/ Fooducate

      Sorry, bad editing this morning. 11 grams of fiber.

  • Jamrs Cooper

    Bravo

  • The Candid RD

    I’m so glad the FTC is taking this issue seriously. People are drinking juice every day thinking it’s good for them. I never recommend more than 4-6 ounces per day. PERIOD! Unless it’s homemade and all green veggies, I suppose (less sugar that way!)

  • http://www.andreawrites.ca/ Andrea T

    Ever since I bought my juicer last month, pomegranate has been my favourite thing to juice. I’ve added it to other juices, and I’ve used it as a base for cocktails. I wonder if home-juiced pomegranate (masticating juicer which doesn’t heat up the juice) lacks the nutrients too, or if that’s just mass-produced factory juice.

    As for the chore of taking out the seeds, I agree with Yvette, and it’s an activity I enjoy because I’m tactile. Getting my hands in the water and separating puts me in a zen-like state. I could do it all day (okay, probably not).

  • Pingback: Do it Pistachio Style | Fooducate

  • VanessaElizebeth

    I had half a cup this morning and had to leave work early due to vomiting and constant running to the toilet.I wont drink this again.campingtourist.co.uk

  • blazingsun

    It’s weird that the fda is classifying pom as a drug
    http://www.fda.gov/iceci/enforcementactions/warningletters/ucm202785.htm
    and then on the other hand they get sue for false statements of what their product does.

  • 4theluv

    Look, any time you are drinking your calories you should ask the question “Is this really good for me?” That’s a much different question than, “Can I drink these calories as part of a healthy diet?” Ask WHY you are drinking it.

    Liquid calories are always a second best, no matter if (and perhaps especially if) it’s made by Coke, Pepsi, or some other company. If it’s not water, ask where it actually fits in your healthful lifestyle. Diet coke? Ok, does it work and what are the risks and benefits for overall health? Alcohol, same question. Milk? Bet you could get the nutrients somewhere else. Juice (and juicing as well) CANNOT be better for you than the whole item. It’s predigested food items. So why drink it? The only reason is that you like the taste and it fits in your nutritional guidelines. Ok. But don’t make it super healthy. Accept it always as second best, but sometimes needful for some folks. But don’t treat at a needed or must have.

    But please, don’t blame the companies who put it put there with a health halo, who you know are trying to make a profit, for duping you into buying a third class product you KNOW is second class at best.

  • jlm

    anyone that suggests drinking tap water … not sure i trust.