A class-action lawsuit says the Impossible Burger at Burger King is misleading
The boom of plant-based burgers at fast-food chains seems like a boon for vegetarians and vegans. Finally, the chance for a real meal instead of scrambling together lunch out of fries, apple slices, and a Sprite. But in a class action lawsuit filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida, plaintiff Phillip Williams argues that Burger King is misleading customers with its Impossible Whopper. “Despite Burger King’s representations that the Impossible Whopper uses the trademarked ‘Impossible Meat’ that is well known as a meat-free and vegan meat alternative,” says the suit, “Burger King cooks these vegan patties on the same grills as its traditional meat products, thus covering the outside of the Impossible Whopper’s meat-free patties with meat by-product.”
Specifically, the suit names the tagline “100% WHOPPER® 0% BEEF” as deceptive, since the burgers could easily absorb juices and fats from beef products, but there are “no disclosures on its menus that would notify a consumer prior to their purchase of the Impossible Whopper that it was cooked in a manner that would result in meat by-products on the burger.”
Over the summer, reports began circulating that Burger King’s Impossible Whopper was not actually meat-free, and that at least at one Brooklyn-based Burger King, employees didn’t think twice about sending beef burgers to those who had ordered the Impossible Burger. So maybe Burger King isn’t the company to trust with your dietary restrictions. The chain does specify that “for guests looking for a meat-free option, a non-broiler method of preparation is available upon request.” Though Burger King does use the “0% BEEF” tagline on its website, it also (somewhat confusingly) never uses the words “vegetarian” or “vegan.”
The vast majority of those ordering plant-based burgers are not actually vegetarian or vegan, but meat-eaters looking to reduce their meat intake or are curious to try a new fad. It’s likely that Burger King, and other fast-food chains with similar offerings, see themselves as in the business of catering to that majority. Then again, promising the product is “0% BEEF” is obviously false, and it shouldn’t take a lawsuit to make their fine print a little more obvious.
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