POM sues Coke over pomegranate claims

By Shane Starling

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Advertising, Pom

POM Wonderful, the Californian-based pomegranate juice leader in the US, is suing Coca-Cola over claims it has been making for a Minute Maid juice containing pomegranate.

POM alleges the Minute Maid labeling for the product that reads: 'Pomegranate Blueberry: Flavored Blend of 5 Juices' constitutes false advertising because pomegranate appears to be a major ingredient in the juice that contains only 0.3 per cent pomegranate.

The juice also contains raspberries but is in fact 99 percent apple and grape juice.

A POM spokesperson said POM initiated the court action because it believed consumers bought pomegranate juice to gain the antioxidant-derived health benefits that it said were only available in high doses of pomegranate juice.

POM Wonderful juice is 100 percent pomegranate. Minute Maid becomes the fourth big beverage brand POM has taken action against after Tropicana, Welch's and Ocean Spray.

POM itself drew regulator heat in February when it (along with 16 other food and drink companies making various claims) was issued with a warning letter over antioxidant health claims the Food and Drug Administration deemed medicinal and unauthorized.

POM at the time stood by its claims that included being able to reduce atherosclerosis; reduce blood flow/pressure; slow the onset of prostate cancer; improve erectile function; improve circulation; reduce cholesterol; fight free radicals and benefit diabetes, but has since moderated some of the claims on its website.

In its defense Coke said its Minute Maid pomegranate-containing juice met FDA labeling requirements, which the US District Court of California agreed with in a summary judgment.

But it also said that kind of compliance did not necessarily prevent, "POM from alleging that Coca-Cola has advertised or marketed the juice in a misleading manner".

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