As part of its ongoing efforts to uncover overhyped health claims in food advertising, the Federal Trade Commission issued an administrative complaint charging the maker of POM Wonderful 100% Pomegranate Juice with making false and unsubstantiated claims that its products will prevent or treat heart disease. The ads in question appeared in national publications such as Parade, Fitness, The New York Times, and Prevention. Furthermore, executives at POM made statements, in some instances through an expert endorser, that clinical studies, research, and/ or trials prove that drinking 8 ounces of POM juice daily prevents or reduces the risk of heart disease and treats heart disease by decreasing arterial plaque and improving blood flow to the heart. However, the FTC alleges that clinical studies, research, and/or trials do not prove these things. Among other things, large studies that POM funded showed no significant difference between consumption of pomegranate juice and that of a control beverage in thickness of arteries and reduction of plaque. Furthermore, two smaller studies funded by POM Wonderful or its agents showed no significant difference between consumption of pomegranate juice and that of a control beverage on measures of cardiovascular function, and multiple studies funded by POM Wonderful or its agents did not show that POM products reduce blood pressure. The FTC complaint alleges that POM Wonderful's heart disease claims are false and unsubstantiated because many of the scientific studies conducted by POM Wonder- ful did not show heart disease benefit from use of its products. How do you think this FTC case will turn out? In other words, do you think POM's actions violate Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act? Why or why not? If so, what possible penalties could POM face?
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