The U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin on May 24 granted a preliminary injunction against Anheuser-Busch InBev SA, barring the Budweiser brewer from rolling out advertisements that suggest MillerCoors LLC beer brands Miller Lite and Coors Light contain corn syrup.
MillerCoors, a unit of Molson Coors Brewing Co., filed a complaint March 21 stating that AB InBev launched a 60-second false and misleading advertisement during the Super Bowl that led customers to believe there is corn syrup and high-fructose corn syrup in Miller Lite and Coors Light.
In its complaint, MillerCoors said it uses corn syrup rather than another source of sugar to aid fermentation "because it does not mask or change the barley and hops flavors and aromas distinctive to Miller Lite and Coors Light beers." MillerCoors said the ingredient is not present in its final products.
Following an injunctive hearing May 16, District Judge William Conley ruled in favor of MillerCoors, ordering AB InBev to stop describing corn syrup as an ingredient in the finished product, to stop labelling Bud Light as having "no corn syrup" without any reference to "brewed with," "made with" or "uses," and to stop referencing Miller Lite and Coors Light in its ads without including any reference to "brewed with," "made with" or "uses."
Judge Conley also denied AB InBev's motion to dismiss the lawsuit.
In a statement to the Associated Press, MillerCoors CEO Gavin Hattersley said the company is "pleased with today's ruling that will force Anheuser-Busch to change or remove advertisements that were clearly designed to mislead the American public."
Meanwhile, Cesar Vargas, vice president of legal and corporate affairs at AB InBev, told the AP that "Bud Light remains committed to leading the alcohol industry by providing more transparency for consumers including letting them know about the ingredients that are used to brew their beer."