Last week, consumer class action lawsuits popped up all over the country accusing Anheuser-Busch of watering down its beer. The suits, filed in Pennsylvania, California, Texas and beyond claim consumers have been cheated out of the alcohol content stated on labels, each seeking at least $5 million in damages.
Peter Kraemer, vice president of brewing and supply at Anheuser-Busch, released this statement via their website:
“The claims against Anheuser-Busch are completely false, and these lawsuits are groundless. 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.”
Kraemer appears to be correct, at least according to recent laboratory tests conducted by National Public Radio (NPR). Looking to dispel this controversy quickly, samples of Budweiser and other Anheuser-Busch products were lab tested in San Diego.
Tests conducted on Budweiser, Bud Light Lime and Michelob Ultra this week by San Diego’s White Labs found that “the alcohol percentages inside the cans were the same as what was stated on the can,” says analytical laboratory specialist Kara Taylor. “Some of them were spot-on. Others deviated, plus or minus, within a hundredth of a percentage” — well within federal limits, she says.
Apparently the lawsuits aren’t based on real tests. They are based on the word of former employees. According to the AP story being passed around all the major newspapers:
The lawsuits are based on information from former employees at the company’s 13 U.S. breweries, some in high-level plant positions, according to lead lawyer Josh Boxer of San Rafael, Calif. … 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. … According to the lawsuit, the company has equipment that measures the alcohol content throughout the brewing process and is accurate to within one-hundredth of a percent. But after the merger of Anheuser-Busch and InBev, the company increasingly chose to dilute its popular brands of beer, the lawsuit claims.
“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.
We wonder how this will affect AB InBev’s plans to purchase Grupo Modelo, which is fighting antitrust concerns from the U.S. government. The mega beer company probably won’t skip a beat, but we’ll keep you updated.