Anheuser-Busch accused of watering down Budweiser

Anheuser-Busch accused of watering down Budweiser

“Our beers are in full compliance with all alcohol labeling laws. We proudly adhere to the highest standards in brewing our beers, which have made them the best-selling in the US and the world,” Peter Kraemer, vice-president of brewing and supply, said in a statement.

The suit involves 10 Anheuser-Busch products: Budweiser, Bud Ice, Bud Light Platinum, Michelob, Michelob Ultra, Hurricane High Gravity Lager, King Cobra, Busch Ice, Natural Ice and Bud Light Lime.

Anheuser-Busch merged with InBev in 2008 to form the world’s largest alcohol producer, headquartered in Belgium. In 2011, the company produced 22bn gallons of alcoholic beverages, 3bn of them in the US, and reported $ 22bn in profits, the lawsuit said.

According to the lawsuit, the company has sophisticated equipment that measures the alcohol content throughout the brewing process and is accurate to within one-hundredth of a percent. But after the merger, the company increasingly chose to dilute its popular brands of beer, the lawsuit alleged.

“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 lead lawsuit, filed Friday in federal court in San Francisco on behalf of consumers in the lower 48 states.

Companion suits are being filed this week in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and elsewhere.

The named Pennsylvania plaintiffs, Thomas and Gerald Greenberg of Ambler, said they buy six cases of the affected Anheuser-Busch products a month. They did not immediately return a message Tuesday, and Boxer would not elaborate on their purchases except to say the consumer-protection suit does not involve retailers or bar owners.

One of the California plaintiffs, Nina Giampaoli of Sonoma County, said she 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 – I really feel cheated. No matter what the product is, people should be able to rely on the information companies put on their labels,” Giampaoli said in a news release issued by Boxer’s law firm.

In a telephone interview with The Associated Press, Boxer said he has evidence to corroborate the former employees’ allegations, but stopped short of saying the beers had been independently tested.

“AB [Anheuser-Busch] never intends for the malt beverage to possess the amount of alcohol that is stated on the label. As a result, AB’s customers are overcharged for watered-down beer and AB is unjustly enriched by the additional volume it can sell,” the lawsuit said.

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