Budweiser accused of ‘watering down’ beer and face US lawsuit

If you thought your beer tasted a little on the weak side recently, you might have a point, as beer drinkers in the US have filed a $5m (£3.3m) lawsuit against alcohol manufacturer Anheuser Busch. The lawsuit comes after allegations of watering down certain products, including Budweiser and Bud light bottles, and former employees claim that this alleged practice began after Anheuser Busch’s 2008 merger with InBev.

Picture: AP Photo/Michael Conroy

Picture: AP Photo/Michael Conroy

The lawsuit states that according to information from former employees at the breweries owned by the multinational, excess water was added just before bottling and as such, the alcohol content does not tally with the stated alcohol amount on the bottles.

Lead lawyer for the claims, Mr Josh Boxer of San Rafael, California, said: “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.”

Anheuser-Busch InBev meanwhile have completely refuted the claims, calling them “completely false”, and said in a statement “our beers are in full compliance with labelling laws”.

The complaint claimed that “Anheuser-Busch employs some of most sophisticated process control technology in the world to precisely monitor the alcohol content at the final stages of production, and then adds additional water to produce beers with significantly lower alcohol contents than is represented on the the labels”.

When the American based company Anheuser-Busch merged with Belgian-Brazilian InBev in 2008, they formed the world’s largest alcohol producer. But it was after this merger that the alleged practice of watering down products began. The lawsuit states that: “Following the merger, [Anheuser-Busch] vigorously accelerated the deceptive practices, sacrificing the quality products once produced by Anheuser-Busch in order to reduce costs.”

Peter Kraemer, vice president of brewing and supply at Anheuser-Busch, is known to have since issued this statement, “We proudly adhere to the highest standards in brewing our beers, which have made them the best-selling in the US and the world.”

Ten Anheuser-Busch products are involved, including Budweiser, Bud Ice, Bud Light Platinum, Michelob, Michelob Ultra, Hurricane High Gravity Lager, King Cobra, Busch Ice, Natural Ice and Bud Light Lime.

The actions, filed in Pennsylvania, California and other states, could cost the company millions in damages, if this is found to be true.

Budweiser, and the company’s other alcohol brand Michelob, each claim to contain five per cent alcohol, while some ‘light’ versions said to be just over four per cent. These products are currently being tested to ascertain exactly how much alcohol the bottles do contain.

Mr Boxer said: “It’s a simple cost-saving measure, and it’s very significant.”

Source: BBC News Business

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