LaCroix’s Cross to Bear

A lawsuit of many flavors

The beverage company’s sparkling reputation has been tainted by a new lawsuit filed in early October.  It is the hope of the plaintiff that the case will reach class action status, as all LaCroix consumers are subjected to the apparent false advertising and deception of LaCroix’s parent company, the National Beverage Corporation.  The company markets all-natural ingredients in their products, however, the plaintiff alleges that the “natural essences” of LaCroix’s sparkling water are accompanied by synthetic and potentially harmful chemicals.

LaCroix’s company website allows consumers to select a box for Nutritional FAQs, that directs the screen to an array of colorful boxes displaying frequently asked questions. One of the boxes asks, “What ingredients make up the ‘Natural Flavors’ in the LaCroix flavors?” with the corresponding answer: “The flavors are derived from the natural essence oils extracted from the named fruit used in each of our LaCroix flavors.  There are no sugars or artificial ingredients contained in, or added to, these extracted flavors.”  In another location on the website, a turquoise box poses the question, “What’s meant by ‘all natural flavors’?” When consumers click on that box, the answer appears on their computer screen: “All natural flavors are essences or oils derived from the named fruit, i.e., lime / lime oils. There is nothing artificial in LaCroix – enjoy!” The plaintiff in the lawsuit disagrees with LaCroix’s “all-natural” proclamation and unveils the argued contradiction of what is in the sparkling water versus what is advertised.

Some of the reportedly harmful ingredients in LaCroix’s sparkling water include limonene, linalool, and linalool propionate. Limonene causes tumors, linalool operates as a cockroach insecticide, and linalool propionate is used in cancer treatments.  While these chemical uses appear alarming, supporters of LaCroix are defending the company’s integrity. In particular, one argument of support is that, as an insecticide, linalool is deadly to cockroaches, but not necessarily toxic to humans.  LaCroix, as well as those who drink the beverage with pride and loyalty, denies all accusations of deceptive marketing and assures the public that while those ingredients may be in the sparkling water, it is difficult to argue that they are definitely synthetic.  Under FDA guidelines, a product cannot be “all-natural” if ingredients are synthetic; however, according to LaCroix, there is no scientific evidence to prove that the chemicals mentioned in the lawsuit are synthetic.  For that reason, there is a divide between those who identify themselves as followers of the LaCroix cause, and others who see a clear misrepresentation of the company’s product.