Anheuser-Busch advert derides watered-down Bud claims

Anheuser Busch's can-of-water advert

Anheuser-Busch is seeking to defend its reputation against claims that it is watering down Budweiser and nine other famous American beer brands it owns.

Beer drinkers filed lawsuits for $5m (£3.3m) each last week in various US states, alleging the alcohol content is less than stated on the label.

In full-page adverts being run in 10 US newspapers, the multinational drinks maker makes light of the accusation.

"They must have tested one of these," it says, showing a can of water.

The can shown is one of 71 million that Anheuser-Busch Inbev said it donated to the American Red Cross and disaster relief organisations globally.

"But in every other circumstance, the Anheuser-Busch logo is our ironclad guarantee that the beer in your hand is the best beer we know how to brew," says the advert, which appeared in the New York Times and LA Times among others on Sunday.

"We take no shortcuts and make no exceptions. Ever."

The lawsuits, which have been denounced by the company as "completely false", claim to be based on inside information.

"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.

The complaint claimed that "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 labels."

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Media captionLead lawyer Josh Boxer says former employees came forward with evidence

The lawsuit alleged that the practice began after the US firm Anheuser-Busch merged with the Belgian-Brazilian Inbev in 2008 to form the world's largest alcohol producer.

"Following the merger, [Anheuser-Busch] vigorously accelerated the deceptive practices, sacrificing the quality products once produced by Anheuser-Busch in order to reduce costs," the lawsuit said.

Mr Boxer said that the company would be called on in court to disclose its own internal testing data from its factories.

"These alcohol readings, taken six times a second as the finished product is bottled, will confirm the allegations made by the growing number of former employees who keep coming forward to tell us the truth," he said.

Peter Kraemer, vice-president of brewing and supply at Anheuser-Busch, said in a statement, "We proudly adhere to the highest standards in brewing our beer."

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