Beer enthusiasts in the United States have filed $5 million class-action lawsuits against Anheuser-Busch (AB) InBev accusing the company of selling watered down beer.
Suits filed in California, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey claim that AB, the world’s largest brewer, is purposely overstating the alcohol content in 10 of its well known, retail beverages.
Former employees at multiple AB US breweries have claimed that all products are watered down to cut costs, according to lawyer Josh Boxer of San Rafael, CA.
“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 … It’s a simple cost-saving measure, and it’s very significant,” Boxer said.
The lawyer also claimed that the addition of water prior to bottling cut down the advertised alcohol content by 3 to 8 percent.
If you’re unaware, an accepted level of ethanol for regular beer is 5 percent by volume and light beer is 4.2 percent by volume. These figures also include an acceptable standard deviation of plus or minus .3 percent for the advertised alcohol content, so a 3 to 8 percent cut would be extremely significant — something that would be very difficult for a quality assurance test to overlook during manufacturing.
AB InBev refuted the claims and called them “groundless,” further stating that its beers fully comply with labeling laws and are not watered down by any means.
Peter Kraemer, vice president of brewing and supply, said, “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.”
CBS News reports that the lawsuit further alleges of disregarding ethanol content sensor readings during manufacturing and instead choosing to water down its beers to cut costs.
Interestingly enough, all of the named plaintiffs have been reported to have purchased AB products on a regular basis.
Nina Giampaoli, one of the California plaintiffs, said, “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.”
Boxer told The Associated Press that he has evidence to support the former employees’ allegations of watering down beer, but did not confirm if the beers had been tested to verify conformance to bottling standards.
The lawsuit states that “AB 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.”
In addition to damages, the lawsuits, according to Bloomberg, are seeking to have the brewer implement a “corrective advertising campaign” to remedy its alleged deceit.
AB InBev delivered 98.5 million barrels of beer in the US during 2011.
So, what do you think? Are we drinking watered down beer? Is it possible that the world’s largest brewer is selling everyone short?