Anheuser- Busch InBev finds itself in some hot water, or shall I say cold water, as of yesterday. The big brewer has been accused of watering down its products, and the allegations have resulted in class action lawsuits filed in several states.
Beer drinkers have often complained about the watery nature of products brewed by Anheuser- Busch InBev, Miller, Coors, and other large breweries, but now the accusations are more than just a casual comment in search of an easy laugh. The matter is much more serious now, with plaintiffs claiming that Anheuser- Busch InBev is not being truthful about the alcohol content of its products. The lawsuits claim that the company is adding actual water to a large percentage of its brands, chiefly as a cost cutting measure.
Class action lawsuits have been filed in a few states so far, but the one that got the ball rolling was the state of California and lead lawyer Josh Boxer. Allegedly, reports have been received from Anheuser- Busch InBev employees who claim that actual water is being added at the end of the brewing cycle in order to stretch supplies and improve profits. Some employees have even stated that the adding of extra water is part of the Anheuser- Busch InBev corporate policy and has been a regular part of the brewing process since Anheuser- Busch merged with InBev just a couple years ago.
“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,” said Boxer. “It’s a simple cost-saving measure, and it’s very significant.”
According to allegations, Anheuser- Busch InBev is adding water right before bottling, reducing the alcohol level by a small margin. How large the reduction truly is would depend on the amount of water added. To offer an example, Budweiser claims to contain 5 percent alcohol by volume. Let’s assume that Anheuser- Busch InBev is adding 20% additional water to the brewing of Budweiser. If they add this much, it would reduce the alcohol by volume from 5 percent down to 4.17 percent. If they are adding 10% additional water, it would reduce the alcohol by volume down to 4.55 percent.
Some may wonder why this matters and may question why consumers care about additional alcohol, but it really comes down to truth in labeling. If the label says the alcohol content is 5 percent, then the product should contain 5 percent alcohol. Anything less
would indicate that the company is diluting the product, thereby lowering the quality, or is not brewing it with enough ingredients to result in an alcohol level of 5 percent. Either way, the consumer is deceived and a lawsuit is in order.
Anheuser-Busch InBev denies the allegations and claims that it’s beers are in full compliance with existing labeling laws. At this time, there is no scientific evidence that Anheuser- Busch InBev is watering down its brew, but some actual testing of products is likely as the litigation proceeds.
The lawsuit names ten different Anheuser- Busch InBev products: Budweiser, Bud Ice, Bud Light Platinum, Bud Light Lime, Michelob, Michelob Ultra, Hurricane High Gravity Lager, King Cobra, Busch Ice, and Natural Ice. Other products may be added as additional lawsuits are filed in other states.