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POM's wonderfully misleading "snake oil" juice

POM Wonderful company sues people who speak out against them, so I won't be signing my name."

Smart! They also get a police lieutenant to submit affidavits to convince an appellate court justice to issue search warrants to raid legal, non-violent protesters by shamelessly employing spin the likes of which I guarantee you have never before encountered. I have to hand it to him - he's a master!

POM's wonderfully misleading "snake oil" juice

While surfing the web yesterday I stumbled across a story about animal rights terrorists possibly poisoning POM Wonderful pomegranate juice. The article stated the Animal Rights Militia perpetrated this act to send a message to the company that people will not tolerate their unnecessary and inhumane research on animals. My first reaction was "why would animal activists poison healthy juice sold in organic markets?" I could not fathom their motivation so I did a little research and I was shocked at what I uncovered. What I uncovered has nothing to do with animals at all.

It seems the already mega-wealthy owners of the company Stewart and Lynda Resnick bought a farm back in 1987 that just happened to have a pomegranate orchard on the property. They did nothing with it for years until Lynda decided that all their orchard really needed was a snazzy health oriented marketing plan to sell pomegranate juice in a sexy bottle. She developed the familiar looking figure eight juice bottle then plastered photos of the bottle with wild health claims all over Los Angeles where the company is based. She had her celebrity friends hold bottles for photo ops, gave away free juice at fashion shows, made a snazzy website and generally did a fantastic job pushing her product as a sexy panacea for the ills of the modern world. Then she ran into a little trouble from the law, the Federal Trade Commission Act specifically.

The act stats "advertising must be truthful, not deceptive" and they "must be able to back up their claims." In the Better Business Bureau's National Advertising Division complaint reports made in 2005 and again in 2006 it seems POM made "advertising claims that suggest drinking eight ounces of POM Wonderful pomegranate juice each day prolongs life and protects against illnesses that include heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease and cancer." Their ads stated that you could "cheat death" and their juice could even make you "younger" and even "save your life." I don't know why they didn't add that it could probably bring about world peace while they were at it.

The NAD stated that "NAD is sensitive to the vulnerability of the target audience and is committed to ensuring that information is conveyed in a manner that does not overstate the scientific findings or exaggerate the performance benefits of any food or dietary supplement product." The result of their report was "NAD determined that the headlines and photographs that anchor the advertising campaign are" "beyond the realm of puffery and hyperbole." The end result was that "NAD recommends that POM Wonderful modify or discontinue claims regarding its Pomegranate Juice." NAD Director Andrea Levine even stated "These were probably the strongest health-related claims that I'd ever seen" for a food product. POM Wonderful responded by saying they disagreed with the reports, that their ads were meant to be "humorous" and "over the top" but in deference to NAD they would change their advertising.

If you go to their POMWonderful. com website and check out their ads, you can see that they are still using the same over the top "cheat death," "forever young" and "the antioxidant superpower" ads. This is over a year after their first warning and six months after their last warning. POM Wonderful seems to believe that they are above the law. Instead of changing their advertising as requested by the Better Business Bureau, they launched into doing "research" to try to back up their wild claims.

As per a recent article it was stated that POM made $91,000,000 annually spending $17,000,000 on research and $12,000,000 on marketing and advertising. They had carried out 21 research projects and had 44 more in the works. That sounds like a responsible way to back up their health claims but is it really? So far the research that they've carried out has been very limited human and animal studies. In order for a research project to be considered legitimate in the scientific world it would have to be a double blind study of at least 1,000 subjects. In going through POM's "research," I see a few "studies" of only a handful of human subjects. I see a few studies with a few animal subjects. These studies have been preliminary studies. The result of these studies has been "more research is needed." So they intentionally did studies on animals which they had to kill all the while knowing the results would be meaningless for their claims? I'm no PETA fan but I am against the unnecessary testing and killing of animals. If it's for a drug that could save my life, do it. But if it's just for some silly juice claims, no thanks. They killed rabbits and mice for juice?

Now I'm sitting here scratching my head. They funded studies which they knew would not give them significant results to back up their wildly exaggerated health claims. That seems like a waste of money in my book but then I'm not a marketing genius like Resnick here. She realizes that most people will go "They did research? It could help my health? I'll try it. What's the harm. It's just juice. It's good for me anyway, right?" No one bothers to read the fine print hidden deep in their website. Then I thought I should take a look to see if pomegranate juice is really that good for you after all.

Yes, pomegranate juice has antioxidants and other things which have been shown to be good for your health. But guess what, eating the actual fruit is better for you than POM's highly processed reconstituted juice. One eight ounce bottle of POM juice has 160 calories and contains 34 grams of sugar, nothing else. One serving of fruit, a piece of actual pomegranate, is only 80 calories and contains only 15 grams of sugar plus protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals missing in the relatively unhealthy POM product. And another thing, pomegranate juice has more calories per ounce than other fruit juices, sometimes two or three times as many calories, all from sugar. Are extra calories, sugar, processed, reconstituted foods good for you? Of course not. In one of their human studies they gave sugary processed POM juice to sick, elderly patients. Was that medically responsible?

Okay, the myth is blown, our eyes are wide open. POM juice is just pomegranate juice like all the other pomegranate juice that people have drunk for ages. It's not that great for you but why not drink it if you're going to drink reconstituted processed sugary high caloric pomegranate juice anyway? Well, it seems that POM's fancy bottle, advertising, research and marketing campaigns don't come cheap. That sexy eight ounce bottle of POM juice sells for up to $5 or 63 cents an ounce. Walmart sells the same juice for 12 cents/ounce, Costco 10 cents/ounce and Knudsen has their own juice for 25 cents/ounce. POM juice costs up to six times as much as other similar pomegranate juices.

Finally, back to the Animal Rights Militia that started my investigation into POM juice. They sent a communiqué that stated they contaminated POM juice in three stores on the east coast. What did POM do? They sent out a press release stating it was just a hoax and the press shouldn't spread the story around. Do they know that for sure? No. They haven't even tested any of the juice yet. Do they tell people not to drink their juice? Do they offer a refund or exchange in case you already bought juice from that store? Do they post any information about the threat on their website? Do they even answer emails or phone calls about how one can tell if their juice bottle had been tampered with? No! It seems they care more about money than people.

I'm sitting here really confused. Why are people drinking POM juice? Their advertising is misleading. They have no research to back up their wildly exaggerated health claims. Eating actual fruit is much better for you than drinking high calorie processed sugary juice. It's more expensive than just about any other brand. Bunnies and mice were treated inhumanely and killed for no reason. They care more about making money than saving people's lives. What am I missing here? I guess we consumers are as stupid as Resnick thinks. She's making millions off this stuff. She could sell yellow snow to Eskimos. Resnick is definitely a modern day snake oil saleswoman extraordinaire.

POM Wonderful company sues people who speak out against them so I won't be signing my name.

 

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