Customs in Belgium have confiscated and destroyed a shipment of Miller High Life beer cans that had the inscription “The Champagne of Beers”.

The shipment was intercepted by Belgium’s custom authority in early February from a ship docked in Antwerp. The initial customs seizure was on the grounds that the cans contravened a protected ‘designation of origin’ in the EU.

In total, 2,352 cans were destroyed following a request from The Comité Champagne – a trade association for the Champagne industry and protectors of the designation – that the cans be destroyed for infringing naming rules.

Molson Coors Beverage Co., the owner of the Miller High Life brand, said in a statement: “Miller High Life has proudly worn the nickname ‘The Champagne of Beers’ for almost 120 years. We debuted the brand just before New Year’s Eve in 1903; nothing says ‘celebration’ quite like that. Of course, we respect local restrictions around the word ‘Champagne’ but we remain proud of Miller High Life, its nickname and its Milwaukee, Wisconsin provenance.”

The US brewer also indicated it does not currently ship its Miller High Life brand into the European Union and was unaware of a load destined for Germany.

In its own statement, the Comité Champagne said “the destruction was carried out by Westlandia company in Ypres (Belgium) on April 17 with the utmost respect for environmental concerns by ensuring that the entire batch, both contents and container, was recycled in an environmentally responsible manner”.

The Champagne trade association works closely with customs forces in the EU and provides training and information packets to officers on how to identify any illicit and fraudulent goods bearing the Champagne designation.

Charles Goemaere, the MD of the Comité Champagne said: “This destruction is the result of a successful collaboration between Belgian customs authorities and the Comité Champagne. It confirms the importance that the European Union attaches to designations of origin and rewards the determination of the Champagne producers to protect their designation.”