LaCroix is technically illegal in Massachusetts — here's why

It all started with a simple quest to find out more about the sparkling water's ingredients.
Sales Of LaCroix Sparkling Water Drop For First Time In Five Years
Amid a new lawsuit, LaCroix sparkling water maker National Beverage Corp. experienced its first quarterly sales decline in five years with a 39% decline in profits from one year ago.Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

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/ Source: TODAY
By Erica Chayes Wida

The ingredients that flavor LaCroix sparkling waters continue to be a mystery, but one surprising thing about the brand was recently confirmed: LaCroix is not supposed to be sold in the state of Massachusetts.

Don't worry fizz fans, it's still apparently OK in the rest of America.

But why?

LaCroix is a calorie-free "all natural" sparkling water, but the real ingredients remain a mystery.lacroixwater.com

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A few years ago, the drink known for its colorful branding and unique flavors surged in popularity while soda sales declined. In 2019, however, the beverage owned by Florida-based company National Beverage Corp. has not been as popular.

One of the ongoing issues many folks have with the drink is a haziness surrounding what's actually in the calorie-free, sweetener-free and sodium-free beverages. National Beverage has faced lawsuits claiming its "all natural" water actually contains a chemical used to make insecticides in it. It has also been targeted for using logos that some deemed racially insensitive to promote a Cuban-inspired line of drinks released earlier this year.

During a recent investigation to find out all of LaCroix's ingredients, Consumer Reports turned to Massachusetts, as it's one of the only states that requires carbonated beverage makers to obtain a permit and submit water to quality testing by the state's environmental protection department in order to sell a product.

The team was hoping for some answers about said testing when they filed a public records request with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health in late May, but instead discovered LaCroix had no permit on file. The department didn't have any records of LaCroix water samples ever being submitted to laboratory testing, either.

When reached by TODAY Food via email, a spokesperson for National Beverage Corp. provided the following statement regarding the status of the company's Massachusetts paperwork: "National Beverage makes every attempt to fully comply with the numerous state and local regulations our products are subject to.

"We have completed an application required by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, paid the required fee, and are working in a good-faith effort with officials of the Commonwealth to promptly resolve this matter."

The spokesperson would not verify when the paperwork had been filed.

Even though LaCroix is still being sold in the state, the reason it's technically illegal in Massachusetts (but not anywhere else) is that laws regulating the inspection of sparkling water quality vary. According to Consumer Reports, "Massachusetts appears to be a rarity among states in requiring carbonated water manufacturers to conduct quality tests and submit them to a regulator."

"Waters with added carbonation" are a somewhat gray area because they fall under the category of soft drinks set by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which means companies that sell them are usually only required to adhere to "good manufacturing practices," like sanitation. They are not, however, subject to the same type of quality testing that's needed for regular bottled or spring water.

If LaCroix makes it official with The Bay State, it's not clear if the water's mysterious all-natural essences will finally be revealed. But at least the public can be fully reassured that their beloved pamplemousse is free of any radioactive materials.