Originally published May 27 2011
POM Wonderful faces FTC in court for making legitimate health claims about pomegranates
by Ethan A. Huff, staff writer
(NaturalNews) Last fall, the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) launched an attack against POM Wonderful, a California-based pomegranate juice company, for making legitimate, scientifically-backed claims about the health benefits of pomegranates and pomegranate juice. This week, administrative law judge Michael Chappell will preside over the first hearings in the case, during which time an important precedent will be set, one way or the other, in regards to freedom of health speech.
The FTC went after POM in the first place because the company cited various scientific studies and made numerous health claims on its website and in its advertising material. Claims that pomegranates help to remediate prostate cancer, prevent heart disease, and treat impotence, among others, were all the subject of "false advertising" claims made by the FTC against the company (http://www.naturalnews.com/029901_pomegranat...).
Even though all such claims, and many others, are true, and are backed by credible scientific studies, the FTC has made a point of targeting POM as part of its supercharged campaign to destroy freedom of health speech. The FTC used to allow claims to be made based on "competent and reliable scientific evidence," which is what POM has done with its product, but now the agency says it is requiring two "well-controlled" clinical trials per health claim in order for it to legally be made.
Food law attorney Jonathan Emord recently commented on the POM case, noting that the FTC is vastly overstepping its bounds by trying to enforce restrictions that are in violation of both the US Constitution, and the precedent set in the case of Pearson v. Shalala. That case established that the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) could not restrict health claims made alongside appropriate qualifying statements, unless the agency could prove there was no way a given qualifying statement effectively eliminated the possibility of being misleading.
Putting the burden of proof on the FDA to prove a claim is false before it can legally restrict that claim is a much more appropriate and constitutional regulatory protocol, and one that Rep. Ron Paul of Texas has been seeking to instigate for years across the board (http://www.naturalnews.com/026810_health_fre...). However, both the FDA and the FTC would rather things to be the other way around, as they repeatedly demand the power to restrict whatever health speech they so choose.
"If the FTC prevails, this case will establish a very speech restrictive precedent," said Emord, regarding the case. "This is an end-run around the Constitution and a deplorable move by the FTC. The FTC is presuming to apply FDA standards not applicable to advertising. FTC says that it is doing so as a 'proxy' for its own deceptive advertising review, but that is a leap of faith, beyond the limits of its statutory authority."
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