Burger King’s Impossible Mess Over Fake Meat

You knew this was coming, right? A vegan man has sued Burger King because he claims the Impossible Burger he bought was cooked on the same grill as real meat burgers. That makes them contaminated, in his view, unfit for people who don’t eat animal products.

Burger King’s tagline on its plant-based menu is “100% Whopper, 0% Beef.” That’s impossible, given the way Burger King was allegedly cooking its products, and has left the company in a legal mess.

In a suit filed Monday in Miami federal court, Phillip Williams says he bought an Impossible Burger – a plant-based protein alternative – at an Atlanta drive-through because he saw no signs indicating it was cooked on the same grill as traditional Whoppers. Williams proposes a class action and says he would not have paid a premium price had he known the cooking would leave his sandwich “coated in meat by-products.”

According to court documents, “Plaintiff, like the other members of the Class, reasonably believed that the Impossible Whopper was in fact ‘0% beef’ and, therefore, did not contain any meat or meat by-products.”

The suit accuses Burger King of violating vegans’ rights through its unfair and deceptive practices and wants the chain to “return all benefits gained, profits received, etc. from its deceptive marketing and sale of its Impossible Whopper so as to make full  restitution to Plaintiff and the Class” and make an actual meat-free Impossible Whopper. It also asks for injunctive and equitable relief and actual, compensatory, and any other damages the court sees fit to award. No dollar amounts are listed in the suit.

Several media outlets have reported this story because, well… fake meat is all the rage in 2019. At least one – Fast Company – reports they reached out to Burger King for comment, but of course the fast-food giant doesn’t comment on ongoing litigation.

However, we must assume Burger King executives saw this coming, right? I mean, it wouldn’t take a chef with a diploma from a culinary school to determine it’s impossible to cook an Impossible Whopper on the same grill as other burgers and not contaminate the plant-based Whopper.

Burger King is a fast-food giant. It has more than 17,000 restaurants in the U.S. and revenue in 2018 of more than $21 billion. It’s safe to assume any company of that size keeps an army of lawyers employed, and one of them must have anticipated a vegan lawsuit over the company’s fake burger cooking. Didn’t they?

If Burger King didn’t anticipate such lawsuits, it’s mind-boggling. Surely the rest of the fast-food industry will take notice of Burger King’s latest lawsuit and make revisions to their cooking methods if necessary.