Ending a long-running trial, a federal judge ruled that POM Wonderful’s advertising that likens pomegranate juice to an anti-cancer drug is misleading. POM’s ads grossly over-exaggerated the effect of their product to reduce the risk of cancer, heart disease, and erectile dysfunction, without substantial scientific evidence. Some ads went as far as portraying POM as a superhero or life support (see above). POM managed to put a positive spin on the ruling by reciting the FDA and FTC’s standard rules, which they should have been following in the first place, and noting that their ads are not subject to pre-approval by the FDA. In practice, this means that POM can put out new misleading ads until the FDA and FTC take them back to court. [New York Times] Update: Marion Nestle shares her thoughts on POM’s advertising.
A USDA study reported that healthier foods are not necessarily more expensive than junk food. Calorie for calorie, fruits and vegetables are more expensive than processed foods because they are low in calories. But, when measured in terms of serving size, “grains, vegetables, fruit, and dairy foods are less expensive than most protein foods and foods high in saturated fat, added sugars, and/or sodium.” The measurement issue is the key to determining affordability, and the study has important implications for food policies that attempt to increase affordability of healthy foods. [Economic Research Service]
Research by Brian Wansink, director of the Food and Brand Lab at Cornell and author of Mindless Eating, demonstrated that visual cues could stop people from overeating junk food. In the study, college students were given either regular Pringles or Pringles that contained red cue chips to delineate serving size. Students who received the cue chips ate less chips overall and could more accurately estimate the number of chips they’d eaten compared to their peers who received regular Pringles. [The Atlantic]