According to Israelsen, the dietary supplement and functional food and beverage industries will be forced to decide if they will back POM on this one. "This is maybe the biggest [legal case] we have seen in a decade," Israelsen said. "Industry must determine whether POM's advertising is the high ground we want to collectively defend."

Peter Leighton, a principal at Natural Discoveries LLC, is one long-time industry executive who believes that POM is doing the right thing and should be supported. "Our industry has been the target of much malign, some of it warranted, but we are caught in a catch-22: We are subject to pharmaceutical level standards, although we are not marketing therapeutics; and when we do provide scientific data supporting health benefits, we cannot communicate it because we are not marketing therapeutics," Leighton said.

The nutrition industry has been awaiting a financially and scientifically solid company that can—and will—stand up to the FTC and FDA and challenge this illogic, Leighton added. "The outcome should be a recognition of the health benefits of nutritional components and the ability to communicate to consumers accurate scientific support, including disease prevention and wellness characteristics. The evidentiary baseline should not be the same as pharmaceuticals, considering that the therapeutic claim is different and, most importantly, that the consumer risk is minimal, if it exists at all."

Leighton advocates nutrition industry organizations join "coordinated forces" with POM in legal challenges to the current system. "A major PR campaign should succinctly and directly communicate with the American consumers how they are being ill served by the current system," he said. "POM should be praised and supported for their desire to right a faulty system, for the road they will pave is one that will benefit our industry and consumers."