A federal judge has ordered POM Wonderful to halt all claims of health benefits for its pomegranate juice after expert witnesses testified in court that the juice is not proven to treat or prevent the diseases mentioned in POM's advertising, such as heart disease and prostate cancer.
Just last week, the shoe company Skechers agreed to pay $40 million to consumers who purchased its Shape-Up shoes under the mistaken belief that they would give you a body like Kim Kardashian.
"In the United States, advertisers are allowed to speak first then if someone takes action, they can make them stop making false adverstidements if they are in fact false," said Timothy Blood, lead counsel for recent cases against Sketchers. "[The Federal Trade Commission], what they do is start a non-public investigation where they request information from the company and the company works with the FTC and tries to convince the FTC that the statements are true or at least substantiated so they're close enough to truthful."
In Europe, food companies must first submit ads to the European Food Safety Authority, whose panel of scientists then determine whether the claims made in the ad are true enough to become part of an advertising campaign.
What can and can’t advertisers say? You’ve seen the advertising – how do you navigate the world of false claims and the promise of a healthier, more beautiful you?
Kristina Diaz, assistant general counsel, Roll Global, LLC., POM's parent company
Timothy Blood, partner, Blood Hurst & O'Reardon LLP; he was lead counsel and represented consumers in the recent cases against Sketchers, Reebok, and Dannon
Jon Cohen, vice president and general manager, Innovation Protocol, brand strategy firm in downtown LA