In a putative class action recently filed in a Florida federal district court against fast-food chain Burger King, the tagline for the Impossible Whopper of “100% Whopper, 0% Beef” is misleading. According to the plaintiff, Philip Williams, although Burger King advertises the Impossible Whopper as being a meat-free option, it is contaminated by meat by-product because it gets cooked on the same grill as other meat products.
The lawsuit accuses Burger King of “false and misleading business practices” and benefiting monetarily from claiming to offer customers a vegan option that in reality is not actually vegan. The plaintiff seeks to represent himself and a class of other vegans who ordered the Impossible Whopper from Burger King. The lawsuit seeks to recover damages for all class members who bought the Impossible Whopper, as well as the imposition of an injunction requiring Burger King to “plainly disclose” that it uses the same grill to cook both the Impossible Whopper and meat burgers.
According to the complaint, the Burger King that the plaintiff visited did not have signage at the drive-thru indicating that the plant-based burger would be cooked on the same grill as meat. The Burger King website notes that “a non-broiler method of preparation is available upon request,” for customers ordering the Impossible Whopper. Despite noting this on its website, the plaintiff alleges that no one told him that the Impossible Whopper was cooked on the same grill as the meat burgers and that if he had known this fact, he would not have ordered it. The suit further claims that other vegans would not have purchased the Impossible Whopper either if they had known. The lawsuit cites similar complaints made by several other consumers online about the burger chain’s preparation of the Impossible Whopper. The complaint requests an order requiring Burger King to return all the profits it made from selling the meat-free alternative, including the money that Mr. Williams paid.
It is not the first time Burger King has faced criticism over the Impossible Whopper. In June of this year, the company apologized after it was discovered that a Brooklyn-area location had delivered regular Whoppers to customers who ordered Impossible Whoppers via a food delivery app.
This is hardly the first lawsuit resulting from meatless food options. In November 2016, a woman sued Buffalo Wild Wings in New York, arguing it had failed to disclose that its French fries and mozzarella sticks had been cooked in beef tallow. The case was ultimately dismissed for failure to identify how the plaintiff was “injured” as a result of the alleged cooking methods. In 2001, McDonald’s faced a lawsuit brought by multiple Hindu and vegetarian plaintiffs who alleged that the company wrongly described its french fries and hash browns as vegetarian yet failed to disclose the use of beef flavoring in its french fries. McDonald’s eventually apologized and agreed to donate $10 million to vegetarian and Hindu groups.
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