The feds are coming down hard on a drink company for making health claims about pomegranate juice.

The company, POM Wonderful, says it has the science to back those claims up -- but you know how the feds feel about that: Science, schmience -- show us the money!

The feds say anyone who wants to tout specific health benefits needs to go through the lengthy and expensive "new drug application" process, which is basically an elaborate protection racket.

Here's how it works: Drug companies conduct their own shoddy and conflicted research and present it to the feds along with a big check. The most important part of that process is that the check clears.

Once it does, the company has the green light to market the drug's approved "benefits" -- even if repeated studies later on prove those benefits don't actually exist, and the drug itself turns out to be dangerous.

Just look at antidepressants. They've paid up, so they're in.

But if you have a relatively healthy nondrug product and some research behind it, you're not allowed to talk about it. If you do, you can expect to find FDA and FTC goons waiting out back to kneecap you... or at least drag you into federal court.

POM says it's ready for that court battle -- but I have a hard time believing that. There's not a chance in heck they'll win, and the case will almost certainly be settled.

I'm sure they're just milking -- or should I say, "juicing"-- this for some free publicity first.

But I say if they have the research -- and published POM-funded studies have found that pomegranates can help with atherosclerosis, blood pressure, prostate cancer, erectile function, dementia cardiovascular disease and cholesterol -- let them at least be allowed to discuss it, and let the consumers decide if it's worthwhile.

Here's my take on it: Enjoy the fruits of the company's research, because pomegranates are healthy -- but pass on the pasteurized drink.

If you want the benefits of a pomegranate, go straight to the source and eat one -- seeds and all -- or juice it yourself, and add a splash of vodka.