WASHINGTON (AFP) - The brewers of Budweiser faced accusations on Tuesday that they have watered down the popular American lager in search of higher profits, in a class action lawsuit filed in San Francisco.
The beer-drinking plaintiffs alleged that Anheuser-Busch is violating consumer protection laws in California and Missouri by "falsely representing the alcohol content of the products it sells." The lawsuit, which demands unspecified "compensatory damages" for anyone in the United States who has bought Budweiser products in the past five years, was filed in US District Court in San Francisco on Friday.
"I think it's wrong for huge corporations to lie to their loyal customers," said one of the plaintiffs, Nina Giampaoli, in a press release Tuesday from the Mills Law Firm, one of two firms involved in the lawsuit.
"I really feel cheated. No matter what the product is, people should be able to rely on the information companies put on their labels." There was no immediate comment from Anheuser-Busch's head office in Saint Louis, Missouri. The company is an icon of American brewing and a core unit of ABInBev, the globe-girdling Belgian-Brazilian brewing conglomerate.
The lawsuit alleges that, by watering down its beer, Anheuser-Busch can produce "a significantly higher number of units of beer from the same starting batch of ingredients." "As a result, Anheuser-Busch's customers are overcharged for watered-down beer and Anheuser-Busch is unjustly enriched by the additional volume it can sell," it claims.
Besides Budweiser, which is marketed as "the King of Beers" with five per cent alcohol by volume, the lawsuit alleges that Anheuser-Busch waters down nine other brands including Bud Ice, Bud Light Platinum and Michelob.
Over the weekend, the distillers of Maker's Mark abandoned plans to reduce the alcohol content of its popular bourbon by three percentage points to 42 per cent in response to an outcry from whiskey tipplers on social media.