There's little doubt that POM Wonderful pomegranate juice is a healthy food choice. And the explosion of the line of products owned by Roll International has been a boon for Kern County, where most of the pomegranates used in POM Wonderful products are grown. But the Federal Trade Commission is correct to have determined that claims about POM Wonderful's ability to fight cancer and other diseases must be backed up with responsible and appropriate science.

While the company has touted the multimillions it poured into research on the health benefits of pomegranate products, an FTC administrative law judge found that those studies failed to back up specific claims used in advertising that the products prevent, reduce the risk of or treat heart disease, prostate cancer and erectile dysfunction. Federal rules allow for more general claims about a food's healthfulness without extensive research to back it up, but the FTC has appropriately drawn the line on claims about combating specific diseases.

The nation as a whole is far more health-conscious and health-literate than it has been in the past and consumers today are making healthier choices specifically to avoid disease or prevent its recurrence. That's a good thing. But marketing the benefits of certain products is helpful to consumers only so long as those claims are based on sound science.