POM Wonderful, the popular pomegranate juice company investigated by the Federal Trade Commission for false advertising claims, is being accused of paying UCLA Health President, Dr. David Feinberg, more than $100,000 for consulting fees while the university was conducting research on POM.
United Students Against Sweatshops has released a petition asking for Feinberg to release all data related to monies received by POM's owners, Stewart and Lynda Resnick. The group is urging Feinberg to donate that money to student scholarships. Feinberg is already the highest paid of all UC Health executives, according to the group. He earns in excess of $1.4 million from the university before any consulting fees.
“It is troubling that that David Feinberg feels the need to supplement his already exorbitant salary from UC with six figure payouts from corporate interests who are using university research for false advertising campaigns.” said Eliana Buenrostro, a student at UCLA in a statement. “The University of California is a bellwether for public universities across the country. We want to send a clear message to corrupt executives like Dr. Feinberg that our universities are not for sale.”
POM Wonderful used research conducted by UCLA's health department under Feinberg's direction to make claims that the juice products could prevent cancer, heart disease, and even erectile dysfunction. These claims were deemed false advertising by the FTC, which upheld a decision rendered by an administrative law judge in 2012. The Resnicks claimed their First Amendment rights allowed the company to make thosee claims. The FTC ruled that the company's unsubstantiated claims be removed from the POM products and ads, or be supported by “well-controlled, human clinical trials.” Rhe Resnicks and POM said the company "categorically rejects the FTC’s assertion that our advertisements made any misleading disease treatment or other health claims."
According to United Students Against Sweatshops, "after the FTC ordered the company to stop advertising unfounded health claims, the Resnicks donated another $4 million to create a Food Law and Policy Program at UCLA."
Keep in touch with Jill on Twitter @jillettinger