(SAN FRANSISCO) — There may be some truth to the joke that certain beers are no more than water.
A new class lawsuit claims Anheuser-Busch is watering down its Budweiser and several other brands, and that drinkers are being cheated by lower-than-advertised alcohol content.
The lawsuit is a multi-state endeavor, with claims being filed in federal courts in Philadelphia, New Jersey and San Francisco.
Josh Boxer, an attorney for plaintiffs in California, said the plaintiffs were tipped off to the overstated alcohol through information from former workers at some of the company’s 13 U.S. breweries.
The lawsuit alleges that watering down of beers began after Anheuser-Busch merged with the Belgian-Brazilian company InBev in 2008, to form the world’s largest alcohol producer.
A lower alcohol content means more water, and a cheaper beer for Anheuser-Busch to make, increasing profits and “intentionally short[ing] the alcohol content,” Boxer said in a phone interview.
One of the plaintiffs claims she bought a six pack of Budweiser every week for the past four years and says she feels cheated.
Anheuser-Busch, naturally, disputes these claims. Peter Kraemer, the company’s vice president of brewing and supply, called them “completely false,” in an e-mail.
“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.”
If the claims are true, total damages “could be quite significant based on the volume of products that AB produces a year,” Boxer said. The complaints all seek damages over $5 million.
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
John Newsome and Anne Woolsey, CNN