Supreme Court Won’t Review FTC POM (Not so) Wonderful Call

The Federal Trade Commission was applauding the Supreme Court Monday after it declined to hear a challenge to the FTC's 2013 decision that POM Wonderful ads had misled consumers.

POM had challenged the decision in the D.C. Circuit, which upheld it. POM then sought Supreme Court review.

“I am pleased that the POM Wonderful case has been brought to a successful conclusion,” said FTC chairwoman Edith Ramirez. “The outcome of this case makes clear that companies like POM making serious health claims about food and nutritional supplement products must have rigorous scientific evidence to back them up. Consumers deserve no less.”

In January 2013, the FTC concluded that POM Wonderful had deceptively advertised that its products were clinically proven to help prevent or reduce the risk of heart disease, prostate cancer and other ailments.

The FCC required that any future claims be supported by at least one controlled clinical human trial.

But Rick Kurnit, with media and advertising law firm Kurnit, Klein & Selz, saidthe courts' refusal to hear the appeal means there is still no decision on how much substantiation is required of health claims.

“The denial of cert. means there is still no Court decision requiring that general health and nutrition claims must be substantiated by even one Randomized Control Human Trial," he said following the decision. "The Circuit court decision which now is final upheld the FTC’s ruling that the ads were false and deceptive in implying disease prevention, but the Circuit Court decision did not address what substantiation would be required to support general health and nutrition claims.”

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.