Supreme Court denial upholds FTC on substantiating claims in advertising.
Green marketers take note: the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) won a recent victory at the Supreme Court on deceptive advertising, which means companies cannot advertise health benefits for their products without sufficient evidence.
On May 2, the Supreme Court denied POM Wonderful’s petition for certiorari, bringing to an end a six-year-long wrangle with the FTC over advertisements that claimed the company’s pomegranate juice was clinically proven as effective in fighting heart disease, prostate cancer, and erectile dysfunction.
The Supreme Court’s denial leaves in place the January 2015 decision [PDF] from the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, which upheld the Commission’s decision that POM misled consumers in violation of the FTC Act. Specifically, the D.C. Circuit upheld the Commission’s findings as to (1) establishment and efficacy claims made in POM’s advertising, as well as (2) inadequate substantiation for those claims.
The D.C. Circuit also affirmed the FTC’s cease and desist order [PDF], which requires POM to substantiate any future disease treatment and prevention claims with at least one randomized, well-controlled human trial, while other health benefit claims must be supported by competent and reliable scientific evidence.
In a statement, FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez lauded the Supreme Court’s move, saying the conclusion of the 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.”