LaCroix and PFAS: Redefining the Role of Science and Regulation

by: Andrew Hoffman

Publication Date: April 1, 2022
Length: 14 pages
Product ID#: 7-806-041

Core Disciplines: Social Impact, Strategy & Management, Sustainability

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Teaching Note

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This case investigates LaCroix sparkling water and its connection to perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), as a study of chemical compounds in carbonated beverages has captured the public’s attention. At the time of this case, PFAS were not heavily regulated, but the media coverage and body of research surrounding this class of chemicals suggested state and federal rules were on the horizon. The protagonist is Josephine Hudson, a fictional character with the title of president of customer satisfaction for National Beverage, LaCroix’s parent company. She must address many questions including: Was there anything that could be done to remove the PFAS in LaCroix? If so, would this increase costs for production as well as the price for the end-customer? Was the company at risk of any legal challenges?

Teaching Objectives

After reading and discussing the material, students should:

  • Explore arguments for and against proactive product changes when facing regulatory uncertainties.
  • Examine the role and responsibility of senior management to challenge scientific findings.
  • Outline all stakeholders that need to convene and collaborate to evaluate product safety.
  • Analyze risks to changing product strategy in light of consumer preference and popularity.
  • Evaluate the extent to which science and transparency of production should be shared with consumers.
  • Consider how regulation plays a role in enforcement/accountability of product safety.