Sometimes I’m genuinely surprised by responses to a story, which was the case when I first covered the news that Burger King was being sued for their Impossible Whoppers. It’s stated in the introductory Burger King promotional material that the Impossible Whoppers are 0% beef, however they’re cooked on the same broilers as BK’s meat products, meaning that they do pick up beef fat and trace amounts of beef. This was not disclosed to consumers in their menu. As someone who is allergic to beef, this is incredibly dangerous for me however I always inform restaurants about my allergy. The one time I had an Impossible Burger the BK staff was very accommodating and it was cooked in a microwave. A vegan man found out the hard way that the Impossible Burgers are cross contaminated with beef after eating one in Atlanta. He ended up suing them for not informing him of this, and that suit is now underway.
When I reported this, many people found it wrong that vegetarian and vegan people would want a company to inform them that burgers advertised as 0% beef were not actually 0% beef. This is baffling to me because Burger King is a huge company with so many layers of people and they should have anticipated this. Don’t put it on the consumer to do something a billion dollar corporation should have considered a no-brainer. Burger King’s latest defense in their lawsuit is that they did not explicitly call the burger vegan. They also said that the consumer needs to ask how the burger is cooked and that they disclosed that under an asterisk on their launch site for the burger.
In a court filing on Thursday, Burger King said the lawsuit should be thrown out because plaintiff Phillip Williams should have asked how Impossible Whoopers were cooked before ordering, Reuters reports.
Williams said his Impossible Whopper was “coated in meat by-products” after purchasing the burger at an Atlanta drive-thru. He and vegans all over the country became outraged at Burger King’s cooking practices.
Williams “assumed that an Impossible Whopper would satisfy his own particularly strict form of veganism … solely because he asked a Burger King restaurant employee to ‘hold the mayo,’” Burger King said. “This claim has no basis.”
What’s more, the company said Williams would have known how the Impossible Whopper was prepared had he done the “smallest amount of investigation” on its website or by reading media reports.
In his lawsuit, Williams claims in the lawsuit that Burger King’s menu makes no “disclosures on its menu” that the patty-cooking method would “result in meat by-products on the burger.”
However, the fast-food chain did previously disclose that the (not entirely) vegan burger would be made in an “open kitchen environment” and provided an asterisk on the product’s official launch page warning consumers of its cooking methods.
Burger King also confirmed that vegan or vegetarian guests can request their patties be prepared in an oven instead of in the shared broiler.
In his lawsuit, Williams is seeking damages and requesting Burger King cook the Impossible Whopper on an entirely different grill.
This is a legal defense, I get it. They did advertise it as 0% beef though, which is practically the same as calling it vegetarian, if not vegan. I also get that people are going to defend Burger King for this and tell people who don’t eat meat for religious, moral or health reasons that they shouldn’t expect that their food doesn’t contain meat, even though it’s advertised as such. I hope this teaches Burger King a lesson. More importantly I hope all the other companies who try to make money off vegetarians and vegans realize that doing it half-assed like this will cost them.