A class-action lawsuit against LaCroix sparkling water claims its "100% natural" ingredients are really synthetic, CBS News reports. "Testing reveals that LaCroix contains a number of artificial ingredients, including linalool, which is used in cockroach insecticide," the suit says, accusing parent company National Beverage of "intentionally misleading consumers." According to the suit, three ingredients in the popular drink— "limonene, which can cause kidney toxicity and tumors; linalool propionate, which is used to treat cancer; and linalool, which is used in cockroach insecticide"—are identified as synthetic by the FDA. But the problem may arise from the FDA's vague way of dividing synthetic from natural chemicals, says Popular Science.
LaCroix does include those ingredients, but PubChem—a database of chemical compounds by the National Institute of Health—says they're "naturally occurring" from sources like citrus peels, flowers, and plants. What's more, the arguments against them being toxic and cancer-causing appear pretty thin (yes, there's evidence of limonene causing cancer in rats, but other studies show it inhibits cancer cells in humans). The FDA lists all three ingredients as "synthetic," saying "natural" ingredients must be derived from animal or plant sources, yet the three relevant chemicals can be derived naturally. Meanwhile, National Beverage—which saw sales spike nearly 13% in the quarter ending July 28—says LaCroix's flavors "are derived from the natural essence oils from the named fruit used in each of the flavors." (Read more natural food stories.)