Exciting month for Anheuser-Busch. First, they convinced Marcus Mumford-collaborator Justin Timberlake to become the "creative director" for Bud Light Platinum. And now the company is being sued by beer drinkers in three different states for allegedly watering down its beer. The lawsuits, filed in Pennsylvania, California and New Jersey, accuse Anheuser-Busch of watering down 11 of their beers, including Budweiser, the aforementioned Bud Light Platinum, and Black Crown; each lawsuit is seeking damages of over over $5 million.
From the complaint: "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".
The three plaintiffs include boozers with impressive enough qualifications. Thomas and Gerald Greenberg of Philadelphia say they buy four cases of Budweiser a month, Nina Giampoli of California bought at least a six-pack of Bud each week for the past four years, and Brian Wilson of New Jersey purchases, on average, a case of Michelob Ultra each month. All plaintiffs accuse Anheuser-Busch of keeping "the alcohol level for each batch of malt beverage at specifications above the desired final product at least initially then adds water and CO2 to the final stage of the brewing process," a process that lowers the overall alcohol content by three to eight percent.
Josh Boxer, the attorney for the plaintiffs in California, the watering down came to light via several whistle-blowing former Anheuser-Busch employees.
"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," lead lawyer Josh Boxer said.
Anheuser-Busch says the claims are unfounded, according to Peter Kramer, the company's vice president of brewing and supply.
"Our beers are in full compliance with all alcohol labeling laws," Kraemer said. "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."
In addition to five million dollars in damages, the plaintiffs are seeking a court order that would require a "corrective advertising campaign." According to Boxer, additional lawsuits are forthcoming in Ohio and Colorado.
Correction: The attorney for the plaintiffs in California is named Josh Boxer, not Joel Boxer.
[The Atlantic Wire/Image via AP]