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May 6, 2013 / Steven Soliman

Whistleblower Case: Anheuser-Busch Faces Class Action for Watered-Down Beer

Anheuser-Busch, manufacturer of popular American beers, is accused of watering down its Budweiser, Bud Ice, Bud Light Platinum, Michelob, Michelob Ultra, Hurricane High Gravity Lager, King Cobra, Busch Ice, Natural Ice, Natural Light, and Bud Light Lime, causing their alcohol levels to fall “well below” the advertised 5% volume, in an attempt to increase profits.

James Clark, a former Director of Operations and Support for Anheuser-Busch, blew the whistle on his former employer in February, 2013 by providing evidence of the watering-down process to attorneys for a class-action lawsuit based on the company’s false advertising. Specifically, the lawsuit alleges that, “Because water is cheaper than alcohol, AB adds extra water to its finished products to produce malt beverages that consistently have lower alcohol than the percentage displayed on its labels. By doing so, AB is able to produce a significantly higher number of units of beer from the same starting batch of ingredients.”

The lead attorney on the class-action suit, Josh Boxer, told the Associated Press that employees from 13 different breweries eventually came forward with more supporting evidence. Some of the employees came from high-level positions within the plants. Boxer explained, “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.”

Lawsuits have been filed in San Francisco, Cleveland, Philidelphia, and New Jersey. One of the California plaintiffs, Nina Giampaoli of Sonoma County, said she has bought a six-pack of Budweiser every week for the past four years. She and other California plaintiffs are seeking $5 million in damages and are asking the court to require the company to promote a corrective advertising campaign.

Anheuser-Busch has since retaliated against Clark with a lawsuit of their own, claiming that he “improperly used and misrepresented our confidential information to instigate these lawsuits, all for his personal gain.”

If you or anyone you know has suffered as a result of false advertising, please contact Khorrami, LLP for a free and private consultation.




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