Pom Wonderful Challenges FTC Ad Rules

     WASHINGTON (CN) - Pom Wonderful claims the FTC is unfairly "using the weight of its vast resources" to single it out unfairly, "based entirely upon Pom's promotion of pomegranate products." The pomegranate promoter claims the FTC violated the Constitution and its own rulemaking procedures by issuing new advertising standards that require "prior FDA approval regardless of whether or not the claims are true or supported by competent, reliable scientific evidence."
     Pom claims the new Federal Trade Commission standards will prevent it from promoting research on the nutritional qualities and health benefits of pomegranate juice. And it claims the FTC violated the Administrative Procedures Act.
     "The FTC has now both (1) represented to Pom and (2) announced to the food industry through two recently published consent orders against Nestle U.S.A. and Iovate Health Sciences ... that the FTC has adopted a 'new standard' and set of requirements that it is universally applying against food and dietary supplement companies to determine whether an individual or company is engaged in deceptive advertising. However, the new measures of 'deceptive' advertising now invoked by the FTC are directly contrary to over twenty (20) years of FTC food advertising rules and regulations and contrary to law, including the First and Fifth amendments.
     "The new requirements now adopted by the FTC directly contravene its prior focus on 'deceptive' advertising and significantly alter the criteria that advertisers may use to establish the truth of their advertising."
     Pom particularly objects to the new rules on "'disease claims,' which represent that a product treats, mitigates, or prevents disease." It objected that "the FTC is also now requiring two 'well controlled' clinical studies for non-disease claims, which also represents a dramatic change in the level of substantiation required to establish the truth of these types of claims."
     Pom claims that it has "invested tens of millions of dollars in funding independent research and in establishing a research program to better understand and promote the nutritional qualities and health benefits of pomegranates."
     And it claims that "The new FTC rules essentially bar Pom from discussing or disclosing the results of its research and the benefits of its products."
     It adds that the new rules have injured its "goodwill and brand identification with consumers as the juice company that focuses on science and good health."
     Pom wants FTC's new rules declared invalid because they deny its rights to free speech and due process.
     Pom Wonderful is represented by Kristina Diaz of Roll Law Group in Los Angeles.
     Pom is a somewhat ferocious litigator. It has repeatedly sued competitors, accusing them of misrepresenting the content or purity of their pomegranate products. It also has been sued in two class actions this year, in Broward County and Cleveland Federal Courts, which accuse Pom of making unsubstantiated claims about the health benefits of its juice.