If you’ve been around here for a while, you know how much we love water and always emphasize the importance of staying hydrated. That said, we know that it can get tiring drinking the same old flavorless liquid all the time… which is why millions of people are turning to sparkling water.
Even without flavoring – natural or otherwise – a “sparkling” or carbonated beverage has more personality, can be fun to drink, and somehow seems more refreshing at times. However, despite claiming to be all-natural, big-name beverage company, LaCroix Water, is under fire for making such false claims and putting several synthetic ingredients into their products.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with LaCroix, here is some perspective… Between 2015 and 2017, the net sales for National Beverage Corporation (LaCroix’s parent company) has risen from $646 million to $827 million. 
It’s quite clear that consumers such as yourself want and, arguably, need healthier and more natural options when it comes to food and drink. Sadly, it seems like some companies only want to cash in on the booming health trend by using misleading natural health claims.
The Reason Why LaCroix Water Is Being Sued
On October 1, 2018, Chicago-based law firm Beaumont Costales filed a class action lawsuit against National Beverage Corporation, “on behalf of Lenora Rice and all those injured by the popular sparkling water brand’s false claims to be ‘all natural’ and ‘100% natural.’” 
Rice became a LaCroix customer because of their claims to be “innocent,” “naturally essenced,” “all natural,” and “always 100% natural.” That was until she discovered that their sparkling water contains ingredients that the Food and Drug Administration has deemed synthetic. 
“These chemicals include limonene, which can cause kidney toxicity and tumors; linalool propionate, which is used to treat cancer; and linalool, which is used in cockroach insecticide.” 
According to the lawsuit, both National Beverage Corporation and LaCroix are aware of the synthetic ingredients used in their drinks. So, what it’s seeking to do is “stop LaCroix from falsely labeling and promoting its products as natural and to award damages to those individuals who purchased LaCroix under this inaccurate depiction.” 
We don’t have access to the lawsuit itself, but only Beaumont Costales’ statement. So, we cannot say whether or not “Rice and all those injured” have suffered legitimate injuries such as the kidney toxicity and tumors mentioned above.
In response to the lawsuit, National Beverage Corporation published a press release denying every allegation. They also reiterated: 
“Natural flavors in LaCroix are derived from the natural essence oils from the named fruit used in each of the flavors. There are no sugars or artificial ingredients contained in, nor added to, those extracted flavors. All essences contained in LaCroix are certified by our suppliers to be 100% natural.”
What We Know About the Synthetic Ingredients in Question
So, let’s look a bit deeper into what these synthetic ingredients actually are…
This flavor and fragrance agent, according to PubChem, is “a naturally occurring chemical” found in oil of oranges and is even deemed safe in food (by the FDA).  The claims about kidney toxicity and tumors are specific to rats, so it’s hard to know whether humans react similarly.  On the contrary, a 2018 study in the OncoTargets and Therapy has found that limonene actually helped prevent the growth of lung cancer cells. 
2) Linalyl Propionate
This additive is usually found in flavors and fragrances, however, it’s not necessarily an additive in a negative sense of the word. Linalyl propionate can actually be found in beneficial plants or foods such as lavender and ginger.  In fact, one 2012 study published in Planta Medica found that linalyl propionate (along with limonene and a few other compounds) helped slow and prevent human prostate cancer cell growth. 
Last but not least, the flavor additive which is said to be found in cockroach insecticide… Like limonene, linalool is naturally occurring and “found in many flowers and spice plants with many commercial applications, the majority of which are based on its pleasant scent (floral, with a touch of spiciness).” 
According to PubChem, there have been both animal and human reports of mild skin and eye irritation. However, the redness and pain are likely a result of exposure to aerosol sprays that contain linalool (which makes sense when you consider the mild irritable effects of spicy foods or fragrances).  Plus, another 2016 study published in the World Journal of Gastroenterology found that linalool actually induced the death of human colon cancer cells. 
It’s important to note the subtle difference between synthetic and artificial ingredients. Although it doesn’t sound like a “natural” term per se, synthetic compounds can be found in nature. They can be made from natural raw materials to either produce or mimic other things found in nature. For example, linalool can be produced from other things and not necessarily from lavender or ginger, as mentioned above. Artificial compounds, on the other hand, cannot be found in nature.
Do LaCroix Drinkers Have Anything to Fear?
It’s hard to say whether they do… Judging from the studies we found, it seems like the three “synthetic” ingredients may have more pros than cons.
What’s confusing is that although the three ingredients listed above are all described as naturally occurring, the FDA categorizes limonene and linalool as “synthetic flavoring substances.”  As mentioned by MUNCHIES, we’re in the dark about whether LaCroix uses the naturally occurring chemical compounds, or synthetic ones.  (Hopefully the lawsuit reveals those details.)
Unfortunately, other sparkling water brands will likely cloak ingredients such as linalool, linalyl propionate, and limonene under all-natural labels. Your best bet is to make your own specialty waters or carbonate your everyday water at home!
 Graham, L. (2018, October 01). Beaumont Costales Files Class Action Lawsuit Against LaCroix Water. Retrieved from https://www.einnews.com/pr_news/463609871/beaumont-costales-files-class-action-lawsuit-against-lacroix-water
 BEAUMONT COSTALES FILES CLASS ACTION LAWSUIT AGAINST LACROIX WATER. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://beaumontcostales.com/beaumont-costales-files-class-action-lawsuit-against-lacroix-water/
 NATIONAL BEVERAGE REFUTES ALLEGATIONS [PDF]. (n.d.). National Beverage Corporation. http://ir.nationalbeverage.com/static-files/cba3cdf2-3e86-4381-a15e-0218d3c842e2
 Limonene, ( )-. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/440917#section=Top
 Flamm, W. G., & Lehman-McKeeman, L. D. (1991, February). The human relevance of the renal tumor-inducing potential of d-limonene in male rats: Implications for risk assessment. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2024047
 Yu, X., Lin, H., Wang, Y., Lv, W., Zhang, S., Qian, Y., . . . Qian, B. (2018). D-limonene exhibits antitumor activity by inducing autophagy and apoptosis in lung cancer. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5894671/
 Patel, N. V. (2018, October 04). The ‘all-natural’ label on your LaCroix is meaningless, but that doesn’t mean the seltzer is bad for you. Retrieved from https://www.popsci.com/lacroix-lawsuit-natural-synthetic-flavors
 Jayaprakasha, G. K., Murthy, K. N., Demarais, R., & Patil, B. S. (2012, June). Inhibition of prostate cancer (LNCaP) cell proliferation by volatile components from Nagami kumquats. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22673830
 Linalool. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/6549#section=Exposure-Routes
 Iwasaki, K., Zheng, Y., Murata, S., Ito, H., Nakayama, K., Kurokawa, T., . . . Ohkohchi, N. (2016, November 28). Anticancer effect of linalool via cancer-specific hydroxyl radical generation in human colon cancer. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5124981/
 CFR – Code of Federal Regulations Title 21. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/cdrh/cfdocs/cfcfr/CFRSearch.cfm?fr=182.60&SearchTerm=linalool
 Keyser, H. (2018, October 05). Don’t Freak Out About the LaCroix Lawsuit. Retrieved from https://munchies.vice.com/en_us/article/a3pyzp/dont-freak-out-about-the-lacroix-lawsuit
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