Since bourbon and vodka have recently found themselves on the wrong side of a lawsuit, beer has decided to join in on the action. A proposed class action has been filed against Anheuser-Busch (“AB”) alleging that the American brewer deceptively marketed its light beer products. Specifically, the named plaintiff, Sheila Cruz, alleges that AB claims that the Bud Light Lime-A-Rita (and each of its five flavor varieties) is “light” and low in calories when, in fact, it contains more calories than any other AB beer. An 8-ounce Lime-A-Rita contains 220 calories whereas 12-ounce cans of Bud Light and Budweiser contain 110 and 145 calories, respectively. The suit was originally filed in state court in Los Angeles, but as defendants often do, it has been removed to the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.
On the surface, it appears that this suit could have some teeth with the Lime-A-Rita containing 50 percent more calories in two-thirds the quantity of a Budweiser, its notoriously heavy cousin. However, is comparing the Lime-A-Rita to Budweiser or Bud Light a proper comparison? The Lime-A-Rita’s calorie count arguably isn’t “light” by beer standards. But, is the Lime-A-Rita really a beer? Is it a margarita? Or, it is some kind of beer-margarita hybrid? AB claims the following on its website:
Bud Light Lime-A-Rita has the great taste of a lime margarita with a twist of Bud Light Lime for a delightfully refreshing finish. With Bud Light Lime-Ritas, there’s no need to spend time mixing and blending to prepare a lime-flavored beer margarita. Just pop open, pour over ice and enjoy!
Beer is not something enjoyed over ice. This product sounds like a margarita-in-a-can with the joys of a Bud Light lime twist only AB could create. While the drink may not be an actual margarita, comparing the Lime-A-Rita’s calorie count to its purebred brethren lends more credence to the “light” label than with beer comparisons. When a standard margarita on the rocks boasts 455 calories, the Lime-A-Rita’s 220 definitely feels light by comparison.
Of course, once AB takes the position that the Lime-A-Rita is actually a margarita, it will probably face false advertisement claims from another front.