What is in this article?:
- Legal battle over pomegranate health claims
- FDA, FTC challenge POM Wonderful
- FDA, FTC challenge pomegranate health claims.
- War over pomegranate juice important to San Joaquin Valley farmers: All the POM Wonderful products’ 2009 sales of $165 million came from Paramount Farms’ 18,000 acres of pomegranates and what they purchased from other farmers.
- Resnicks vow to fight; will not fold.
- There are now about 30,000 acres of pomegranates in the Valley, more than double the acreage of 2006.
FDA, FTC challenge POM Wonderful
Earlier this year, the FDA sent a warning letter to POM Wonderful, stating that promotion of those therapeutic benefits is to identify pomegranate as a drug regulated by FDA.
Late last month, the FTC got into POM Wonderful’s face, alleging that POM’s advertisements for its 100 percent pomegranate juice and its POMx supplements contain “false and unsubstantiated claims” about treating or preventing various diseases.
“Any consumer who sees POM Wonderful products as a silver bullet against disease has been misled,” said David Vladeck, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “Contrary to POM Wonderful’s advertising, the available scientific information does not prove that POM Juice or POMx effectively treats or prevents these illnesses.”
In its lawsuit against FTC, the Resnicks claim the charges are “completely unwarranted” and accuse the government of violating POM’s constitutional rights.
The government is “wasting taxpayer resources to persecute the pomegranate,” the company said.
In its press statement, POM Wonderful noted pomegranates are a food with both historical usage and evolving research on health effects. The statement added: “We do not make claims that our products act as drugs. What we do, rather, is communicate, through advertising, the promising science relating to pomegranates. Consumers and their health providers have a right to know about this research and its results." POM noted there are more than 55 studies on POM products, including 19 clinical trials that have been published in peer-reviewed journals, with more studies in progress.
It is clear the Resnicks are not going to back down. They did not amass a $2 billion fortune by being meek.
They earned their billions marketing Fiji Water and Teleflora, a national flower-delivery service, as well as from Paramount Farms and Suterra, a company which makes pheromone products for agriculture.
Lynda Resnick accused FTC’s Vladeck of having gone "crazy" and of being a "zealot."
"We're going to fight this," said Mrs. Resnick.
Paramount Farms is the world's largest vertically integrated supplier of pistachios and almonds with more than 70,000 acres of pistachio and almond orchards in the San Joaquin Valley. It also farms more than 30,000 acres of citrus along with the pomegranate acreage.
Lost in this battle is the fact that no government agency has said pomegranates are unsafe — just maybe not as miraculously healthy as the Queen of POM proclaims.
If you don’t believe the fight is on, watch the first volley — a new $10 million POM TV campaign featuring a naked and sultry ‘Eve.’ The narrator says that it was a pomegranate, not an apple, that seduced Adam in the Garden of Eden.
Another shows a half-naked sandaled warrior marching over ancient sands. In mythology, says the narrator, eating pomegranates gave men "bodies as solid as bronze."
Mrs. Resnick said the recent launch of the new ad campaign had nothing to do with the government’s recent actions.
Mrs. Resnick was quoted as saying said she would personally testify to POM's benefits for a better sex life. "Stewart and I have a great time, and we're really old," she said.
San Joaquin Valley farmers following the glow of Cleopatra’s ruby red lips down the Nile hope there is no sequel to the story of the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden.