Lawsuit claims Burger King's Impossible Whoppers are contaminated by meat

Burger King's Impossible Whopper has previously faced scrutiny for not being totally vegetarian.
Impossible Whopper
Close-up of Impossible Whopper, a meat-free item using engineered, plant-protein based burger patty from food technology company Impossible, during a limited market test at a Burger King restaurant in the San Francisco Bay Area, Danville, California, June 26, 2019. (Photo by Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images)Getty Images stock

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/ Source: Reuters
By Jonathan Stempel and Richa Naidu

On Monday, Burger King was sued by a vegan customer who accused the fast-food chain of contaminating its meatless Impossible Whoppers by cooking them on the same grills as its traditional meat burgers.

In a proposed class action suit that was filed in Florida, Phillip Williams said he bought an Impossible Whopper, a burger with a plant-based patty, at an Atlanta drive-thru. However, he said he would not have paid a premium price had he known the cooking process would leave it "coated in meat by-products."

The lawsuit filed in Miami federal court seeks damages for all U.S. purchasers of the Impossible Whopper, and an injunction requiring Burger King to "plainly disclose" that Impossible Whoppers and regular burgers are cooked on the same grills.

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Burger King, a unit of Toronto-based Restaurant Brands International Inc, declined to comment, saying it does not discuss pending litigation.

Its website describes the Impossible Burger as "100% Whopper, 0% Beef," and adds that "for guests looking for a meat-free option, a non-broiler method of preparation is available upon request."

Williams' lawyer did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the disclaimer or the available cooking options.

Impossible Foods Inc, which helped create the Impossible Whopper, has said it designed the product for meat eaters who want to consume less animal protein, not for vegans or vegetarians.

"For people who are strictly vegan, there is a microwave prep procedure that they're welcome to ask for in any store," Dana Worth, Impossible Foods' head of sales, said in a recent interview.

Burger King began selling the Impossible Whopper in August. While pricing of the burger varies by location, Impossible Whoppers have a suggested retail price of $5.59, while regular Whoppers cost between $4-$5, depending on the meal deal being offered.

Restaurant Brands also owns the Canadian coffee and restaurant chain Tim Hortons, and is overseen by Brazilian private equity firm 3G Capital.