UPDATE: Jan. 31, 2020: Burger King asked a federal court in Florida on Thursday to throw out the proposed class action lawsuit, saying that it never advertised the Impossible Whopper as vegan, according to Law360.
- Burger King is facing a class action lawsuit that claims it misleads consumers by marketing its Impossible Whoppers as vegan when they are cooked on the same grill as beef burgers, according to TMZ.
- The lawsuit claims that Burger King fails to disclose that the burgers are cooked in a way that would result in meat byproducts on the Impossible Burger.
- The lead plaintiff in the lawsuit, Philip Williams, purchased the Impossible Burger in Atlanta, and is seeking damages and for the burger chain to stop cooking Impossible Burgers on the same grill as meat burgers.
Although new plant-based protein alternatives are primarily being marketed to meat eaters as a substitute for their beloved beef burgers, vegetarians and vegans have also welcomed the trendy new products that fit within their dietary parameters. But the question of whether the new wave of veggie burgers still comports with their meat-free diets if cooked on the same grill as meat has been floating around since early 2019. A number of media outlets reported in August that Burger King's Impossible Whoppers are cooked on the same grills as beef burgers, and some of the reports also noted that the Impossible Whopper is served with traditional egg-based mayonnaise, as well.
A footnote on Burger King's online menu informs guests that they can request a non-broiler method of preparation if they wish to avoid having their food touch the same surface as meat, and can have it cooked in the oven. An Impossible Foods representative previously told INSIDER that patrons can also request to not have mayo on their burgers.
Burger King may not be concerned about the vegan and vegetarian demographic upset over the potential for animal byproducts touching their plant-based substitutes. The chain reports that 90% of its customers choosing the plant-based alternatives are not vegetarian or vegan, and has reported a 5% boost in same-store sales as well as additional traffic. But other restaurants are taking more proactive steps to appease vegetarians and vegans, which could draw traffic away from Burger King as a result.
White Castle uses a different grill for the plant-based patties it serves and cleans the regular grill before cooking plant-based patties, while Carl's Jr. says it's trying its best to keep vegan patties from contacting meat patties. Dunkin' cooks plant-based Beyond Meat sausage, which went national Nov. 6, on individual pieces of parchment paper and stores them on individual portion trays to prevent them from touching animal byproducts. Tim Hortons follows a similar protocol, according to Fortune. With so many other chains finding ways to cook the patties separately without making the customer request it, Burger King may need to consider alternative cooking practices to stay competitive in the plant-based burger game.