A proposed class action alleges Anheuser-Busch InBev Worldwide, Inc. has deceived and misled consumers by failing to disclose that the non-alcoholic variety of Beck’s beer in fact contains trace amounts of alcohol.
The 21-page false advertising lawsuit says consumers have been “induced” into buying purportedly non-alcoholic Beck’s beer based in part on Anheuser-Busch InBev’s labeling of the product, which the plaintiffs argue indicates that the beer contains no alcohol whatsoever. In truth, “non-alcoholic” Beck’s “does, in fact, contain some alcohol,” the suit alleges.
According to the case, Anheuser-Busch’s labeling of “non-alcoholic” Beck’s is materially misleading in that thousands have bought the beer under the false belief that they are not consuming any amount of alcohol. The plaintiffs are respectively described in the complaint as an individual in recovery from alcoholism and a woman who was pregnant and breastfeeding at the time she purchased “non-alcoholic” Beck’s beer under the belief that it contained no alcohol whatsoever.
“They have been misled,” the suit avers. “They have been deceived into consuming alcohol.”
The two categories of non-alcoholic beers are split into “alcohol free” beer, which contains “no detectable levels of alcohol” and is often labeled as “alcohol free,” and “non-alcoholic” beer, which can contain up to 0.5 percent alcohol by volume (ABV), the lawsuit begins. Per the suit, all non-alcoholic beers that contain any detectable amount of alcohol fall into the second category.
Non-alcoholic Beck’s, the case says, falls into the second category considering it contains some alcohol but less than 0.5 percent ABV, the lawsuit reads.
According to the complaint, the distinction between “alcohol free” and “non-alcoholic” beverages is critical to many consumers, including those who are pregnant or breastfeeding, recovering from alcoholism or otherwise wish to avoid consuming any amount of alcohol. The complaint charges that those who are abstaining from alcohol and drink “non-alcoholic” Beck’s inadvertently consume alcohol because the product “lacks sufficient warning that it contains some alcohol.”
“These consumers are induced to purchase a product they would not have otherwise purchased,” the case reads.
The lawsuit says one of the plaintiffs was pregnant and breastfeeding when she bought and consumed Beck’s non-alcoholic beer in or around October 2020. The other plaintiff says he was in recovery from alcoholism at the time he purchased Beck’s beer in September 2020. Per the suit, both plaintiffs saw the term “non-alcoholic” on the package of Beck’s beer but did not see any other statement indicating that the product contained alcohol.
The suit aims to cover a class consisting of California residents who bought a Beck’s non-alcoholic beer under the belief that the beverage does not contain any alcohol within the last four years and until the date a class receives certification from the court.
In 2015, Anheuser-Busch InBev settled for $20 million a class action lawsuit centered on the claim that Beck's buyers were deceived by the emphasis on "German Quality" on the decidedly American-made beer's label.
Initially filed on November 24, 2020 in Los Angeles County Superior Court, the lawsuit was removed to California’s Central District Court on January 15, 2021.
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