7 False Health Food Claims

  • POM Wonderful

    The Claim: POM Wonderful pomegranate juice and POMx supplements promote healthy blood vessels, reduce high blood pressure, reduce LDL cholesterol, treat prostate cancer, and alleviate erectile dysfunction.

    The Truth: The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) alleged that POM Wonderful violated federal law by making unsubstantiated claims about their products. The FTC said that studies claimed as evidence by POM Wonderful were unreliable or not conducted scientifically.

    The Conclusion: It's still under dispute. The FTC filed a suit on the grounds that POM Wonderful engaged in deceptive advertising. POM Wonderful fired back at the FTC, saying that the accusations were unwarranted. POM argues that their products do not carry the risks associated with pharmaceutical drugs, therefore their products should not be treated as such.

  • Vitaminwater

    The Claim: Vitamin Water makes health claims for all of its various flavors, using words like defense, rescue, energy, and endurance. The company also says that the drinks promote a healthy state of physical and mental being, and provide the drinker with antioxidants and other nutrients that reduce age-related eye disease.

    The Truth: While Vitamin Water does include the vitamins it lists on the labels, the advertising glosses over the fact that all of its 125 calories come from sugar, making it as unhealthy as a soft drink. It's unsurprising, considering that the Coca-Cola Co. owns Vitamin Water.

    The Conclusion: A lawsuit was filed by the Center for Science in the Public Interest against Coke for making unwarranted health claims. Coke retaliated by saying that the suit is ridiculous and that the ingredients in the drinks are clearly labeled. Interestingly, they also said that no consumer could reasonably be misled into thinking Vitamin Water was a healthy beverage, says the Huffington Post. The suit is currently slated to go to trial.

  • Nestle BOOST

    The Claim: Nestle claims that this childrens drink helps protect against the flu, strengthens the immune system, and prevents respiratory tract infections, among other things.

    The Truth: The health claims were not substantially supported by scientific study, the FTC said.

    The Conclusion: The FTC said that Nestle deliberately deceived customers into thinking that Boost can prevent respiratory health problems in kids. In July of this year, Nestle agreed to drop its misleading advertising.

  • Airborne

    The Claim: Created by a school teacher, this over-the-counter dietary supplement claims to be a preventive cure for the common cold. According to the manufacturer, Airborne can help prevent the flu and colds by warding off bacteria and germs and building up your immune system.

    The Truth: There have been no significant studies that support Airbornes claims. ABC News reported in 2006 that the supplement was tested in only one clinical trial, which was conducted by two people without adequate scientific or medical training.

    The Conclusion: The FTC charged Airborne Health with deceptive advertising. The company paid a fine of $30 million to settle the case. The CSPI also slapped the company with a class-action lawsuit to refund $23.3 million to customers.

  • Gerber Fruit Juice Snacks

    The Claim: What irked consumers was not the advertising for this product, but that its packaging was covered with images of fruits.

    The Truth: The fruit snacks are actually made from high-fructose corn syrup and sugar.

    The Conclusion: The U.S. Court of Appeals ruled that Gerber was using deceptive marketing techniques. The court stated that consumers should not be expected to look beyond misleading representations on the front of the box to discover the truth from the ingredient list in small print on the side of the box.