Anheuser-Busch waters down beers, lawsuits say
PHILADELPHIA — Beer lovers across the United States have accused Anheuser-Busch of watering down its Budweiser, Michelob and other brands in class-action suits seeking millions in damages.
The suits, filed in Pennsylvania, California and other states, claim consumers have been cheated out of the alcohol content stated on labels. Budweiser and Michelob each boast of being 5 percent alcohol, while some “light” versions are said to be slightly more than 4 percent.
The lawsuits are based on information from former employees at the company's 13 U.S. breweries, some in high-level plant positions, said lead lawyer Josh Boxer of San Rafael, Calif.
“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 said. “It's a simple cost-saving measure, and it's very significant.”
The water is added just before bottling and cuts the stated alcohol content by 3 percent to 8 percent, he said.
Anheuser-Busch InBev called the claims “groundless” and said its beers fully comply with labeling laws.
“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 U.S. 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, based in St. Louis, merged with InBev in 2008 to form the world's largest alcohol producer, headquartered in Belgium. In 2011, the company produced 10 billion gallons of malt beverages, 3 billion of them in the United States, and reported $22 billion in profits from that category, the lawsuit said.
The company has sophisticated equipment that measures the alcohol content throughout the brewing process, the lawsuit says. But after the merger, the company increasingly chose to dilute its popular brands.
Companion suits are being filed this week in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and elsewhere. Each seeks at least $5 million in damages.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Biden reassures Iraq: U.S. backs your forces in fight against Islamic State
- BP credited with gulf tourism boom
- Senator Warren calls for public hearings on bank waivers
- Yellowstone injuries: Slips, falls outpace bear maulings
- Doctors, hospitals get more time to convert to electronic health records
- Wife, brother accused in man’s hatchet killing