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Wasting Taxpayer Resources to Persecute the Pomegranate, or Pom Not-So-Wonderful?
September 28, 2010 1:32 PM   Subscribe

POM Wonderful may not be so wonderful, but that might not be so surprising, given the history of Stewart and Lynda Resnick. The couple are involved with much more than pomegranate juice: they own Fiji Water, pesticide manufacturer Suterra, Paramount Agribusiness (source of citris, well-known pistachios and other nuts), and former owners of the Franklin Mint. This round with the Resnicks started in February 2010, with a warning from the FDA, which lead to a confusing bit of restraining order requested, then soon after requested to be withdrawn (with fears of pushing the First Amendment too far). That phase is past, but POM Wonderful is now stating they believe "very strongly in its first amendment rights to communicate the promising results," results which look similar to placebos taken by control subjects. The FTC is not impressed.
posted by filthy light thief (29 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
Ok. I don't care if they're lying about health benefits, just tell me their peach tea isn't actively harmful to me, because that's some tasty (admittedly overpriced) stuff.
posted by juv3nal at 1:43 PM on September 28, 2010


I hope no one was fooled by those silly claims and was just drinking the stuff because they like the taste (which is ok in very small quantities). It's just sugar water--you might as well be guzzling lightly diluted HFCS.
posted by Burhanistan at 1:44 PM on September 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


All I know is they need to stop with the fancy bottles and bring back the old cylindrical Pom Iced Tea bottles. I have ten of those in my cupboard. Haven't had to buy a drinking glass in years, but if these ever break I'm SOL.
posted by condiments at 1:49 PM on September 28, 2010 [4 favorites]


I adore pomegranate flavor.

Pom Wonderful does not have that flavor.
posted by The Whelk at 1:53 PM on September 28, 2010


I'm surprised these hucksters don't also own that Tahitian Noni juice shit that was the Acai/POM of the 90s.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 1:57 PM on September 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Pom Wonderful, the pricey and popular pomegranate juice sold in the distinctly curvaceous bottle, is advertised as helping to reduce the risk of heart disease, prostate cancer and impotence.

You have got to be kidding me. Of course the FDA is going to come down on them like a ton of bricks. Good.
posted by zarq at 1:57 PM on September 28, 2010


How can they claim that their juice is "40% as effective as Viagra" and "prevents, reduces the risk of, and treats heart disease" on the one hand, and that the FTC is "acting beyond its jurisdiction, exceeding its authority, and creating a new regulatory scheme that attempts to treat our juice as a drug, which it is not" on the other?

I'm sorry, but they were printing ads which claim that pomegranate juice stops prostate cancer. If POM is "not a drug", then it should be pretty easy to stop making such ridiculously over-inflated health claims about it.
posted by vorfeed at 1:58 PM on September 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


This drives me nuts as I want to go into chemistry: No wonder the public has no respect for us anymore, everyone is selling snakeoil that claims it is better then any drug ever invented.

Several things: Isn't it the Food and Drug Admin? So they could regulate food just as easily as drugs? Also, doesn't the US have some sort of truth in advertising laws that they could be hit with?

I'm still wondering how certain groups have yet to be charged with fraud...
posted by Canageek at 2:06 PM on September 28, 2010


I hope no one was fooled by those silly claims and was just drinking the stuff because they like the taste

But they were fooled. They are. That's the point of that kind of advertising. Even if people don't literally believe the claims, they will think of the product as a healthy product if it makes health claims.

These guys are lying through their teeth to move tons of product. This crackdown is overdue.
posted by gurple at 2:07 PM on September 28, 2010


Strange that the FDA and the FTC is going after POM instead of more blatant hucksters like MonaVie that make even more outlandish health claims.
posted by gyc at 2:07 PM on September 28, 2010


"For example, POM claims that its products are 40 percent as effective as Viagra.

I'm assuming the women of the blue will vouch for me when I say 40% is no better than 0-5% in this area.
posted by Bathtub Bobsled at 2:19 PM on September 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


I just went looking for MovaVie dirt, and wow, those people are real asshole too. Thanks for the heads up gyc.

What is it with weirdos selling juice?

I remember as a child of "hippies" that everybody was really into "juicing" way back in like, the early 80s. People would have these juice machines and would grind up carrots and apples and all sorts of things to drink, in order to be healthy. Being a child, I wondered what is the difference between just eating apples and carrots and such, but nobody could ever answer me.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 2:20 PM on September 28, 2010


Strange that the FDA and the FTC is going after POM instead of more blatant hucksters like MonaVie that make even more outlandish health claims.

They already did. Interestingly, MonaVie actually warned their distributors to stop making illegal health claims, rather than responding with noes, not our magic juice! 1st Amendment!

Note to POM: it's a very bad sign when $45 fruit-juice Amway is more honest and forthright than you.
posted by vorfeed at 2:24 PM on September 28, 2010


Being a child, I wondered what is the difference between just eating apples and carrots and such, but nobody could ever answer me.

This guy will be happy to tell you what's up.
posted by Bathtub Bobsled at 2:25 PM on September 28, 2010


> This guy will be happy to tell you what's up.

I always think of this guy when juicers are mentioned. Juicing is good for your eyebrow hair.
posted by Burhanistan at 2:27 PM on September 28, 2010


All I know is they need to stop with the fancy bottles and bring back the old cylindrical Pom Iced Tea bottles.

POM Wonderful hears your comments, and thanks you for your commitment to the brand, but the glasses are past. The lids were hard to open and the bottles would break. Plus plastic is more environmentally friendly!

I have some little former jelly jars that are now serving as drinking glasses. You can buy speciality bottles, though it can be hard to find shops that sell single bottles. If you want bulk, you have more options. Or you could check eBay for old jelly / jam jar glasses. If you want to pay more, you can get authentic Pom glasses (best price at this moment: $15 USD for 4 (plus $12.84 shipping).

The startling thing about POM's claims is they weren't fuzzy "full of anti-oxidants" or "a good source of fiber" (which are easy enough claims to validate, but don't directly state "this will keep you cancer free") but there were actual claims that drinking the product could make you less likely to die from prostate cancer, and then they complain that by "uncovering over-hyped health claims in food advertising" (FTC's phrase), the FTC is "wasting taxpayer resources to persecute the pomegranate" (POM's phrase). The POM website has been simplified in terms of the science, but now there is WonderfulPomegranateResearch.com, where you can read more than 50 published studies.

In regards to fruit juice vs whole fruit: there are various benefits in whole fruit over fruit juice. You get more of the fruit if you eat them whole, and you'll be processing the fiber with the sugars, which slows down the sugar intake (I think, though I could be wrong).
posted by filthy light thief at 2:28 PM on September 28, 2010


Walter Benjamin, Meet Lynda Resnick.

And since I work at LACMA, that's probably about the extent of what I'll contribute to the discussion.
posted by scody at 2:41 PM on September 28, 2010


REALLY?
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 2:53 PM on September 28, 2010


Re: juicing vs whole fruit, the claims I've seen say juicing is superior to whole fruits because the inedible bits contain micronutrients that would otherwise not be consumed.
posted by Burhanistan at 2:54 PM on September 28, 2010


We covered juice quite a bit in this previous MeFi post about orange juice.
posted by meowzilla at 4:11 PM on September 28, 2010


I tried the pomegranate juice a few years back. It was obscenely expensive and it tasted OK, but left this weir cottonmouthy feeling behind.
posted by jonmc at 5:15 PM on September 28, 2010


"Also, doesn't the US have some sort of truth in advertising laws that they could be hit with?"

Yeah, man, it's called the FTC. That's what they are doing.
posted by klangklangston at 7:05 PM on September 28, 2010


Also, for LA Mefites, Jon's (the Armenian Vons) has pomegranate juice for miles cheaper than Pom.
posted by klangklangston at 7:35 PM on September 28, 2010


I planted some kind of giant variety of pomegranate tree in the front yard the other day. In a few years I expect it to be producing several dozen huge pomegranates each Spring.

No real point here, I just wanted to boast about my future access to pomegranates.
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 4:02 AM on September 29, 2010


I tried the pomegranate juice a few years back. It was obscenely expensive and it tasted OK, but left this weir cottonmouthy feeling behind.

Yeah I get that too, same thing with cranberry juice. Maybe its the tannins?
posted by atrazine at 4:59 AM on September 29, 2010


Jon's (the Armenian Vons)

Aha, that's what it is. A friend and I were in LA after a show, and pulled off the freeway in search of food. We saw the glowing red VONS sign, but it said JONS. We did a double-take, and drove on because it was closed.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:24 AM on September 29, 2010


FYI, pomegranate juice lovers, my dentist warned me that people with ceramic or other colored fillings should avoid drinking it.

He said it right as he was re-drilling and replacing two fillings in the front of my mouth for the SECOND time, which were horribly stained from drinking the juice in question. (Shouldn't there be a sign or something in the dentist office or a warning on the bottle that it'll stain fillings? I knew it stained teeth and brushed afterward, but the fillings in between turned PURPLE! I enjoyed POM martinis for awhile, but alas, nevermore.)
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 1:45 PM on September 29, 2010


You know what's really nasty, though? That POM Iced Coffee swill.
posted by Burhanistan at 2:14 PM on September 29, 2010


Tl;dr – MonaVie is a deceptively overhyped, overpriced fruit juice sold in upscale packaging.

I know someone who swears that MonaVie gives her more energy, and has improved her health. She talked me into watching a promo DVD for the product. The most humorous part for me was their description of the production: They harvest and immediately flash freeze the berry using this propriety hand wavy process, and they are the only company that does this.
I tried to no avail to tell her that this process is called “freeze drying,” and that it’s been done since at least the 50’s.

Also, the company won’t state how much acai is actually in their juice either.
Q: How much açai is in the MonaVie juice blend? (#7)

A: The exact amount of açai, or of the other fruits,
contained in our blend is not disclosed. This is considered
one of the company’s greatest intellectual
assets. However, the ingredients appear on the
label in order, by amount, from most to least. This
means that because açai is the first ingredient listed
on the label, it is the most abundant.


“…Their greatest intellectual asset?!” What a truckload of feces! What they are actually saying is that deception is their greatest intellectual asset: There are EIGHTEEN other ingredients in the blend. This means that the amount of acai could be as low as 6% and still meet federal guidelines for ingredient labeling.

Now she has her sister drinking this stuff. It just pisses me off that companies will willfully rip people off like this.
posted by Krapulous at 10:45 PM on September 29, 2010


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