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LaCroix Sued For False Advertising

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Nature has Its Dangers Too

A recent class-action lawsuit against The National Beverage Corp. claims LaCroix sparkling water has misled consumers by deeming itself “natural.”

The company boasts “all natural essences” on the can, which runs counter to claims made in the case stating the soda contains synthetic chemicals limonene and linalool. (Linalool is notably used in insecticide.)

The National Beverage Corp. denies the allegations, restating that the ingredients mentioned come from natural sources. They aren’t lying; linalool and limonene are readily bioavailable in lavender and citrus fruits.

What worries consumers, and the litigating law firm, are the potential health risks involved with ingesting those substances. Limonene has been linked to kidney toxicity and anything used in insecticide is generally alarming when found in a drink.

But it doesn’t say “healthy” on the can. It says “natural.” Suddenly we find ourselves in an etymological rabbit hole trying to define this seemingly self-explanatory word. Washington Post columnist Alan Lenivitz ascribes the confusion to a “problematic and systematic” conflation of “natural” and “good.”

After all, lead is natural and we don’t eat that. So are volcanoes and snake venom. In fact, human existence can half-heartedly be described as the perpetual fight against nature. Why in the world would we want to be drinking it in a can?

Maybe that’s too harsh. Maybe consumers don’t trust corporations anymore. They have developed a kind of post consumptive stress disorder from brands like Coke and Marlborough.

Consumers are just worried about their health. If anything, this is a reckoning. Publicists and marketers should take note. Its always good to spread the word, but you might want to be clear on its meaning first.