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Vegan sues Burger King for cooking Impossible Whopper on meat grill (and something about rats)

2B or not 2B

Member
Oct 28, 2017
657
Ireland
From BBC News and The Guardian:
A vegan customer is suing Burger King for cooking its plant-based patties on the same grills it uses for meat.

In a proposed class action filed in the US, Philip Williams said the way the Impossible Whopper is grilled leaves it "coated in meat by-products".

He said the burger's tagline - "100% Whopper, 0% Beef" - was misleading.

The response from Burger King:
In a statement, a Burger King representative said the company does not comment on pending litigation. On the Burger King website, underneath the advert boasting “100% WHOPPER®, 0% Beef,” there is a notice that reads:

"*For guests looking for a meat-free option, a non-broiler method of preparation is available upon request.”

However, Burger King did not respond to a question about whether the statement was uploaded after Williams bought his burger.

A spokeswoman for the supplier, Impossible Foods, also told Reuters news agency that vegetarians and vegans "are welcome to ask" for their Impossible Whopper to be cooked in a microwave.
Image from the website of the warning:
What the customer says happened:
In the lawsuit filed in a Miami federal court, Mr Williams says that the burger chain does not clearly advertise that the plant-based burgers are cooked with meat.

He said he visited a drive-through restaurant in Atlanta, Georgia, and ordered the Impossible Whopper without mayonnaise.

At no point was he told the Whopper was cooked on the same grill as the meat burgers, he said - adding that, had he known, he would not have ordered it.

But the strangest story comes from The Guardian from the start of November:
In November, Impossible Foods revealed in its own report that an ingredient in its burger was tested on rats, causing controversy over whether it can truly be vegan if it is tested on animals. A number of rats died in the testing of the burger.
As has be stated a few times in the thread this is due to FDA requiring experiments on animals before passing products:
The Ingredient didnt kill any rats. They killed the rats themselves and dissected them after consuming to see effects.
It was apparently required for the FDA to approve the safety of their plant-derived heme. it seems like any food that uses some novel chemical will run into the same problem.
 
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Boiled Goose

Banned
Nov 2, 2017
10,003
If true I'm surprised BK didn't have a very obvious disclaimer.

That said, how much can this pain and suffering actually be worth?
 

Dylan

Member
Oct 28, 2017
1,636
It's insane that cooking meat and non-meat products on the same grill is standard protocol. It's pretty much universal practice to keep meat products separate, regardless of what kind of establishment the kitchen is in.
 

krae_man

Member
Oct 25, 2017
2,212
This was happening when I worked for Burger King in college 18 years go.

There was a separate segmented track on the grill, but it was also used for the grilled chicken and would be used for Whoppers and Whopper Jr's during peak periods when burger demand was high.

Also:

 
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BAD

Member
Oct 25, 2017
6,076
USA
There’s something funny about Impossible saying you can ask Burger King to microwave it lol. Also the rat testing is required for it to be sold in grocery stores, and was a required step to give people the option for countless future meals to be totally meat free.
 

Messofanego

Member
Oct 25, 2017
8,287
UK
Yikes, then it might not be halal either. I tried one when I was in USA a couple of months ago. Didn't know about the preparation. So that's a widespread preparation or just Atlanta?
 
Oct 25, 2017
17,879
I could have sworn Burger King said they were cooked on the same surface as meat and could be alternatively prepared at the time of the roll-out but I could be mistaken.
 

mrmoose

Member
Nov 13, 2017
8,382
Do they advertise it as vegan anywhere? Or do they just say the patty is not made with meat?

I understand the complaint, but I'm not sure how anyone thinks they're using a separate grill just for this one item.
 

Muu

Avenger
Oct 25, 2017
600
Yikes, then it might not be halal either. I tried one when I was in USA a couple of months ago. Didn't know about the preparation. So that's a widespread preparation or just Atlanta?
Probably widespread unless there's stores where that have 50% sales of vegetarian burgers or some shit that allows them to dedicate a grill to it.
 

BAD

Member
Oct 25, 2017
6,076
USA
Yikes, then it might not be halal either. I tried one when I was in USA a couple of months ago. Didn't know about the preparation. So that's a widespread preparation or just Atlanta?
I would think it’s standard. They aren’t going to buy clean new grills for a small percentage of their patties to be cooked on for an even smaller percentage of people who care that it touched a grill meat patties also touched. Many just wouldn’t consider that ruining the Impossible party in any way.
 

mrmoose

Member
Nov 13, 2017
8,382
the impossible whopper is prided on being vegan and they ask if you want cheese or not.

it's deceptive to say the least.

for the record, white castle's impossible sliders ARE cooked on a separate cook top.
I don't think it's prided on being vegan, it's advertised as having no meat. I guess I'll have to look up the actual commercials but I don't think they ever say it's vegan (just like they don't ever say it's actually healthier, because it's not).
 

BAD

Member
Oct 25, 2017
6,076
USA
Someone who speaks Veganese explain this to me
To sell in grocery stores there were requirements to test specific ingredients they created in animals first. Some vegans are strict that the product should not be considered vegan if it’s research and development involved meat or animals.
 

Ryaaan14

Member
Oct 25, 2017
2,971
Chicago
BK has been super clear about the grill. This person is looking for a buck and setting back the vegetarian movement.
 

DJ_Lae

Member
Oct 27, 2017
3,459
Edmonton
This has been pretty standard practice at any fast food place that offers non-meat burgers.

I dunno. I see someone wanting to know up-front, but filing a lawsuit because your burger may have had a handful of molecules of beef fat on it seems excessive.
 
Oct 27, 2017
7,362
They don't advertise it as vegan as far as I'm seen so that was only his naive assumption.
Also, it's been known for quite awhile they tested the plant-based heme on rats so the FDA would issue a statement saying it's not something harmful to humans. They realistically had to do so in order to sell Impossible Burgers in grocery stores.
 
Oct 25, 2017
5,133
Arizona
It's insane that cooking meat and non-meat products on the same grill is standard protocol. It's pretty much universal practice to keep meat products separate, regardless of what kind of establishment the kitchen is in.
Meat is kept separately because different meats have different minimum cooking temperatures for safety. The meat at Burger King is never raw, so that’s not much of a concern, and if the only meat patties being cooked on there are burgers, it’s all cooked to that temperature anyway, so the non-meat would still be safe.

This is more of a “aren’t you kind of missing the point?” like Papa John’s gluten free pizza that they don’t recommend to people with Celiac disease because they take no steps to avoid cross-contamination.
 

CDX

Member
Oct 25, 2017
1,041
I think that’s completely nuts.

and not even crazy PETA, who are known for being THE crazy Vegan organization supports this kind of thought process


https://www.peta.org/living/food/making-transition-vegetarian/ideas-vegetarian-living/tiny-amount-animal-products-food/

Our general advice is not to worry too much about doing this. The goal of being vegan is to help animals and reduce suffering; this is done by choosing a bean burrito or a veggie burger over chicken flesh, or choosing tofu scramble over eggs, not by refusing to eat an otherwise vegan food because it has 0.001 grams of monoglycerides that may possibly be animal-derived.
We discourage vegans from grilling waiters at restaurants about micro-ingredients in vegetarian foods (e.g., a tiny bit of a dairy product in the bun of a veggie burger). Doing so makes being vegan seem difficult and dogmatic to your friends and to restaurant staff, thus discouraging them from going vegan themselves (which really hurts animals). And we urge vegans not to insist that their food be cooked on equipment separate from that used to cook meat; doing so doesn’t help any additional animals, and it only makes restaurants less inclined to offer vegan choices (which, again, hurts animals).
Also, if you see this certified Vegan logo on food products you buy, a completely different organization that certifies food



has this stance:
https://vegan.org/certification/

We do allow companies to use shared machinery (machinery that also runs products containing animal products/ingredients) in the production of their products, but most of those products carry a label that says so.
...
shared machinery may contain trace amounts of eggs or dairy for example. For this reason, a Vegan Certified Product may not be acceptable to individuals with food allergies.
...
The vegan definition is political - it describes one dedicated to reducing the suffering and death of animals and destruction of the planet. People do not choose a vegan diet for purist reasons or for food allergy reasons.

However they do require the machinery be cleaned.


 
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Burt

Member
Oct 28, 2017
3,329
To sell in grocery stores there were requirements to test specific ingredients they created in animals first. Some vegans are strict that the product should not be considered vegan if it’s research and development involved meat or animals.
Gotcha, thanks
 

C.Mongler

The Fallen
Oct 27, 2017
1,757
Washington, DC
Anecdotally at least, I definitely saw the notice in their ads that there was likely cross contamination and that they would make adjustments to the standard cooking process upon request. It's dumb that the "standard" is to cook them on a meat-laden grill, but it seemed pretty clear that's what they do to me. I also don't recall them ever saying they were vegan; just the tagline in the OP, which in a literal sense just means "it doesn't have beef in it" which, ya know, it doesn't.

Not sure this dude really has much of a case tbh even if I get where he's coming from.
 

BAD

Member
Oct 25, 2017
6,076
USA
Idk I just think if you have a problem with a grilled item being cooked with X other grilled item, you should not assume they don’t touch the same kitchen equipment. If you are so strict your vegan meal can’t have been on a surface that a totally different order that was non-vegan touched, you should check. They didn’t say it was vegan to my knowledge anywhere.
 

Erik Zarkov

Member
Dec 4, 2017
91
Yeah, my sister is vegan but only because she got bit by one of those ticks that kill your ability to process meat. If she has something vegetarian that's been cooked in the same cookware that meat product has been cooked in, she will get very sick for a 24 hour period. So yeah, if they're doing this, then she can't eat it as it's not going to vegetarian.
 

kIdMuScLe

Member
Oct 27, 2017
722
They said this at the beginning plus it doesn’t say 100% vegan at all. Just that is not made out of beef
 

sensui-tomo

Member
Oct 25, 2017
2,092
I've always seen it sold as a substitute for beef. Never as Vegan. Taste good enough that I wish they'd sell it in a grounded up form near me.
 

Burt

Member
Oct 28, 2017
3,329
Let’s gloss over why the rats are dying in the first place. There’s no way I’m touching that lab meat.
I mean, dogs can't eat chocolate or grapes. It's not surprising that some rats died testing a food product intended for humans, especially over iterations prior to the final product.
 

BAD

Member
Oct 25, 2017
6,076
USA
I think that’s completely nuts.

and not even crazy PETA, who are known for being THE crazy Vegan organization supports this kind of thought process



Our general advice is not to worry too much about doing this. The goal of being vegan is to help animals and reduce suffering; this is done by choosing a bean burrito or a veggie burger over chicken flesh, or choosing tofu scramble over eggs, not by refusing to eat an otherwise vegan food because it has 0.001 grams of monoglycerides that may possibly be animal-derived.
We discourage vegans from grilling waiters at restaurants about micro-ingredients in vegetarian foods (e.g., a tiny bit of a dairy product in the bun of a veggie burger). Doing so makes being vegan seem difficult and dogmatic to your friends and to restaurant staff, thus discouraging them from going vegan themselves (which really hurts animals). And we urge vegans not to insist that their food be cooked on equipment separate from that used to cook meat; doing so doesn’t help any additional animals, and it only makes restaurants less inclined to offer vegan choices (which, again, hurts animals).
Interesting and honestly I am not vegan but this personally seems logical. If the product itself was not made with meat or animal product, coming into contact with someone else’s unrelated order does no harm to any other animals.
 

Midramble

The Fallen
Oct 25, 2017
3,715
San Francisco
I guess Vegan has different definitions to different people. If you specifically care about a certain part of the process, it behooves you to ask.
 

Keyouta

Member
Oct 25, 2017
2,140
Canada
Yeah pretty sure they had or have a disclaimer on their site saying that both types of patties are cooked on the same grill. This won't go anywhere.
 

Pomerlaw

Member
Feb 25, 2018
3,802
Well yeah but there is meat in the restaurent so I want my money back.
Also the guy who served me isn't truly vegan since human flesh could be considered as meat.

First world problems
 
Oct 25, 2017
4,274
That disclaimer has been on there and BK even had leaflets in stores that explained what impossible burgers were and if you wanted them cooked separately to just ask.
 

BAD

Member
Oct 25, 2017
6,076
USA
In the end, the cheapest solution will be just to stop selling the product (which is actually really good) instead of having to have separate grills at every restaurant. Thanks, vegans.
Yeah that’s seemingly what even PETA says. That making unsustainable requests about other foods to purify your order is not helpful to any additional animals.