Numerous class-action lawsuits against Anheuser-Busch could cost the company millions. Beer lovers across the country have accused the beer powerhouse of watering down some of its brands, and now they are seeking millions of dollars in damages.
The lawsuits, filed in Pennsylvania, California and other states are based on information provided by former Anheuser-Busch employees, according to lead lawyer Josh Boxer.
“Our information comes from former employees at Anheuser-Busch, who have informed us that as a matter of corporate practice, all of their products mentioned (in the lawsuit) are watered down,” Boxer told NBC. “It’s a simple cost-saving measure, and it’s very significant.”
10 Anheuser-Busch products including Budweiser, Bud Ice, Bud Light Platinum, Michelob, Michelob Ultra, Hurricane High Gravity Lager, King Cobra, Busch Ice, Natural Ice and Bud Light Lime are involved in the suit.
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Budweiser and Michelob both claim to have five percent alcohol while some “light” versions are just over four percent. The excess water is allegedly added just before bottling and it ultimately cuts the stated alcohol content by three to eight percent, Boxer argues.
Not surprisingly, Anheuser-Busch refutes the accusations.
“Our beers are in full compliance with all alcohol labeling laws,” vice president of brewing and supply Peter Kraemer said in a statement. “We proudly adhere to the highest standards in brewing our beers, which have made them the best selling in the U.S and the world.”
According to the lawsuit, the company has sophisticated equipment that measures the alcohol content within one-hundredth of a percent, but started diluting the beer after merging with InBev in 2008.
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“Following the Merger, AB vigorously accelerated the deceptive practices described below, sacrificing the quality products once produced by Anheuser-Busch in order to reduce costs,” said the lawsuit that was filed Friday in the San Francisco federal court. It was filed on behalf of consumers in the lower 48 states.
Companion suits that each seek at least $5 million in damages were also filed in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and other states.
Pennsylvania plaintiffs Thomas and Gerald Greenberg said they buy six cases of the allegedly affected Anheuser-Busch products every month. California plaintiff Nina Giampaoli said she has bought a six-pack of Budweiser every week for the past four years.
“I think it’s wrong for huge corporations to lie to their loyal customers,” Giampaoli said in a news release that was released by Boxer’s law firm. “I really feel cheated. No matter what the product is, people should be able to rely on the information companies but on their labels.”
In a telephone interview with the Associated Press, Boxer did not say any of the beers had been independently tested, but did say he has evidence that substantiates the former employee’s claims.
“AB never intends for the malt beverage to possess the amount of alcohol that is stated on the label,” the lawsuit reads. “As a result AB’s customers are overcharged for watered-down beer and AB is unjustly enriched by additional volume it can sell.”