WASHINGTON - Pomegranate juice has not been proven to be an effective treatment for cancer, heart disease or erectile dysfunction, United States regulators said on Monday, calling a company's ad claims deceptive.
The US Federal Trade Commission's chief administrative law judge D. Michael Chappell ruled that the company, POM Wonderful LLC, violated federal law by making deceptive claims.
The judge ordered the company to stop making claims of health effects in the absence of 'competent and reliable scientific evidence.'
The judge said in a 345-page decision that there was 'inadequate' evidence to back up the company's superfood claims.
But the judge said the company would not have to submit to pre-approved marketing, which the FTC lawsuit had requested.
The company, a unit of the Roll International group that includes Teleflora and Fiji Water which has claimed the the FTC was interfering with speech, said this was a victory.
The company said the judge upheld the firm's 'right to share valuable, scientifically validated information about the health benefits of its safe food with consumers.'
The company said the FTC lawsuit 'tried to create a new, stricter industry standard, similar to that required for pharmaceuticals, for marketing the health benefits inherent in safe food and natural food-based products.'
'While we are still analysing the ruling, it is clear that we will be able to continue to promote the health benefits of our safe, food products without having our advertisements, marketing or public relations efforts preapproved,' said Mr Craig Cooper, the company's chief legal officer.
POM has been in a long battle with authorities over the so-called superfood which has also been purported to help fight Alzheimer's disease and arthritis and improve sperm quality.