FDA cracks down on false health claims

pomegranate.ju.top.jpgPomegranate juice is said to have health benefits, but federal regulators are calling out POM Wonderful for its claims.By Annalyn Censky, staff reporter


NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- The pomegranate juice POM Wonderful may have been touting it's "wonderfulness" a bit too strongly.

POM Wonderful's Web site hypes studies saying consumers who drink the juice experience more erections, lower blood pressure and cholesterol, and better chances of fighting off prostate cancer.

While the site is careful not to claim any of these miracle-drug properties explicitly, POM has caught the attention of federal regulators.

The Food and Drug Administration sent a warning letter to POM Wonderful President Matt Tupper on Feb. 23 admonishing the company for promoting claims more suited to a drug than food products.

And POM Wonderful is not the only product the government agency is wagging its finger at. Since December, 17 food companies have received warning letters for potential violations.

On Wednesday, Margaret Hamburg, the FDA's top official, issued an open letter to the food industry, warning companies that it will crackdown on food labels with false or misleading claims.

"[The] FDA is notifying a number of manufacturers that their labels are in violation of the law and subject to legal proceedings to remove misbranded products from the marketplace," she said in the letter.

Swiss food conglomerate Nestle received the largest number of citations because its brands Gerber, Dreyer's and Juicy Juice all came under the FDA's cross hairs.

A label on the front of Nestle's Drumstick Classic claims the product has "0 g Trans Fat." Turn to the nutritional label, however, and the vanilla fudge Drumstick Classic contains 19 grams of total fat and 10 grams of saturated fat.

Foods that bear a claim like "no trans fat" but contain more than 13 grams of total fat should include a disclosure, referring the consumer to nutrition information, the FDA said. For example, the "0 g Trans Fat" claim should have said, directly next to this claim "see nutrition information for fat and saturated fat content."

Meanwhile, the labeling on Juicy Juice All-Natural 100% Grape juice implies the product contains 100% juice when it is really blended with added flavors, the FDA said.

Companies that received warning letters have 15 business days to inform the FDA of how they will correct their labeling. Failure to fix their packaging can result in further regulatory action, including seizure and injunction, the FDA warning letters said.

POM is currently reviewing its labeling but denies any false claims. "All statements made in connection with POM products are true and supported by unprecedented scientific research," said spokesman Rob Six.

The FDA frequently issues letters to food and drug companies, and FDA spokeswoman Siobhan Delancey said most companies respond quickly and make changes to their labels.

Often the agency allows manufacturers to use their existing stock before investing in new packaging, but only within reason.  To top of page

Frontline troops push for solar energy
The U.S. Marines are testing renewable energy technologies like solar to reduce costs and casualties associated with fossil fuels. Play
25 Best Places to find rich singles
Looking for Mr. or Ms. Moneybags? Hunt down the perfect mate in these wealthy cities, which are brimming with unattached professionals. More
Fun festivals: Twins to mustard to pirates!
You'll see double in Twinsburg, Ohio, and Ketchup lovers should beware in Middleton, WI. Here's some of the best and strangest town festivals. Play
Index Last Change % Change
Dow 17,814.94 -2.96 -0.02%
Nasdaq 4,758.25 3.36 0.07%
S&P 500 2,067.03 -2.38 -0.12%
Treasuries 2.26 -0.05 -2.16%
Data as of 8:37pm ET
Company Price Change % Change
Apple Inc 117.60 -1.03 -0.86%
Bank of America Corp... 17.10 -0.08 -0.47%
Huntington Bancshare... 10.11 -0.07 -0.69%
Kinder Morgan Inc 40.75 -0.04 -0.10%
Ford Motor Co 15.68 0.01 0.06%
Data as of 4:05pm ET

Sections

Jet fuel prices are down about 18% since August, but don't expect a break in your air fare any time soon. More

Retailers are repeating Black Friday deals from year to year, and offering the same discounts at other times. More

Sales of iPads and other tablets are slumping badly in 2014, and won't likely be a big hit during the holidays as they were last year. More

Ever since the Ebola epidemic erupted in her hometown of Foya, Liberia, Deboriah Foko has been working with Doctors Without Borders to inform others about this deadly virus. Here are journal entries from a day in her life. More

Most stock quote data provided by BATS. Market indices are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer.

Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Factset: FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved.

Chicago Mercantile Association: Certain market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved.

Dow Jones: The Dow Jones branded indices are proprietary to and are calculated, distributed and marketed by DJI Opco, a subsidiary of S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC and have been licensed for use to S&P Opco, LLC and CNN. Standard & Poor's and S&P are registered trademarks of Standard & Poor’s Financial Services LLC and Dow Jones is a registered trademark of Dow Jones Trademark Holdings LLC. All content of the Dow Jones branded indices © S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC 2014 and/or its affiliates.