What Are Those 'Natural Flavors' in LaCroix Anyway?

In recent years, soft drinks have become public enemy number one in the battle against  unhealthy diets. The lambasting of these beverages full of sugary empty calories (or for diet sodas artificial sweeteners) has driven soda sales to a 30-year low in the US. LaCroix Sparkling Water, however, has been able to buck this trend, seeing significant sales growth over this same period. Beyond simply basking in its own renewed buzz, part of the interest in the brand can likely be attributed to LaCroix presenting itself as a positive alternative to other sodas: “A Healthy Beverage Choice, 100% Natural, Calorie-Free, Sugar Free, Sodium Free, No Artificial Sweeteners,” as the company brags.

But if LaCroix is so much better than other sodas, what’s actually in it? That’s what Wired set out to learn in the tech mag’s new video above.

Spoiler alert for people who would rather skip the three-minute video: the answer is that “natural flavors” as defined by the FDA does allow for the use of “incidental additives” – synthetic substances such as solvents to help these flavors better blend with the product – without any requirement to disclose these mysterious additions to the public. Wired spoke to an environmentalist who suggested, “In higher concentrations, we definitely know that some of these [incidental additives] can be harmful.”


Importantly, however, when reached for comment, National Beverage, maker of LaCroix, reinforced that their flavored sparkling waters contain nothing artificial. Though not completely skeptical, Wired does state that “of course, we have to take this claim at face value.”

But other than a bit vague suspicion, Wired couldn’t find anything to worry about. The takeaway seems to be that if you love LaCroix, drink up. Either the soda is surprisingly healthy and you’ll live a long and delicious life, or the company is hiding something from us, in which case you can just try to clean up when the inevitable class action lawsuit rolls around. It’s a win-win!

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