Vegan Files Class Action Claiming Burger King Cooks ‘Impossible’ Whopper on Same Grills as Traditional Meat Products [UPDATE]
Last Updated on July 21, 2022
July 22, 2020 – Lawsuit Dismissed
The proposed class action detailed on this page has been dismissed, with U.S. District Judge Raag Singhal tossing the case on the grounds Burger King actually delivered on its promise of offering a non-meat patty. The plaintiffs have until July 27 to file a motion that would allow time to work on an amended complaint.
In a 12-page July 20 dismissal order, Judge Singhal wrote that the plaintiffs’ breach of contract argument “loses momentum” due to their presumption that Burger King’s Impossible patties would be cooked on a different grill than other food items. Relatedly, the plaintiffs’ lawsuit failed to provide any specifics with regard to the preparation of the Impossible Whopper, an important facet, Judge Singhal noted, given the suit’s Florida consumer protection law claims were based on the charge that the Impossible Whopper was cooked on the same grill as meat products.
Overall, of the plaintiffs’ consumer fraud claims, Judge Singhal wrote that the court “cannot agree” with the argument that Burger King promised more than a non-meat patty.
“Burger King promised a non-meat patty and delivered with the ‘Impossible Burger,’” the dismissal order, found here, states.
March 13, 2020 – Attempting to Dismiss Case for Second Time, Burger King Says Claims Have “No Basis”
In a March 9 motion, Burger King urged a Florida district court judge to dismiss the lawsuit detailed on this page in response to an amended complaint filed February 24. The fast food giant argued the plaintiffs’ claims “have no valid basis” and are flawed to the extent that no class could ever be certified.
At the heart of Burger King’s motion is the argument that the plaintiffs look to represent a nationwide class of consumers who bought the Impossible Whopper even though the facts alleged in the lawsuit are based on personal preference. Burger King challenged the lawsuit in part by asserting that the plaintiffs failed to present a case backing that every Impossible Whopper buyer “shares their strict beliefs,” or were unaware of the broiling method used to cook the product – or even that most of those who bought the plant-based sandwich are vegetarians or vegans.
Burger King’s latest motion attempts to drive home that the plaintiffs have little, if any, ground to stand on, as the amended complaint drops the “untenable” claim that the Impossible Whopper, which comes with mayo in its standard form, was marketed as “vegan.” Further, Burger King relayed that the plaintiffs cannot dispute that the Impossible Whopper patty is 100 percent plant-based and zero percent beef. Instead, Burger King told the court, the plaintiffs claim to “simply have assumed that an Impossible Whopper would be prepared separately” from regular hamburgers and other meat offerings.
“Plaintiffs here allege that they would not have wanted Impossible Whopper sandwiches had they known the Impossible patties would be broiled on the same surface used for beef patties,” the motion says. “A reasonable consumer for whom the cooking method is decisively material, however, should ask about the cooking method, which Plaintiffs admit they did not.”
In sum, Burger King argues that the suit’s claims for breach of contract, consumer fraud, and unjust enrichment, all of which the company says stem from the plaintiffs’ “purported surprise” that the patties are cooked on the same grill as beef burgers, “have no valid basis."
February 4, 2020 – In Attempt to Dismiss, Burger King Argues Impossible Whopper Never Marketed as ‘Vegan’
In an attempt to have the lawsuit detailed on this page dismissed, Burger King has told a Florida court that it simply could not have marketed the Impossible Whopper as vegan given the sandwich comes with mayonnaise in its standard form.
In a January 30 motion to dismiss, Burger King argued that the plaintiff could not allege the fast-food giant ever described the plant-based sandwich as “vegan” and that the man “instead claims to have assumed” the Impossible Whopper “would satisfy his own particularly strict form of veganism” solely because he asked the restaurant to “hold the mayo.”
“This claim has no basis,” Burger King contested, challenging that the plaintiff “has no cognizable claim for breach of contract” or violation of the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act.
Burger King also argued that the plaintiff has no grounds on which to allege the company falsely advertised the Impossible Whopper given the restaurant never promised him a “vegan” sandwich or that the sandwich would be cooked in any particular way. Citing the Florida law, Burger King contested that a reasonable customer “should ask about the cooking method,” which the plaintiff “admits he did not.” Burger King added in the motion that its website and media reports have widely noted that customers may request an alternative cooking method should they wish for an Impossible Whopper to remain separate from beef and chicken.
“In other words, the smallest amount of investigation by [the plaintiff] would have given him the information he claims was uniquely material to him,” according to Burger King. “He cannot base his [Florida law] claim on his asserted but unreasonable ignorance.”
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A Georgia vegan has filed a proposed class action lawsuit against Burger King over the fast food chain’s allegedly “false and misleading” practice of grilling its meat-free Impossible Whoppers on the same grills it uses to cook traditional meat products.
The plaintiff argues in the 13-page case that consumers would not have paid a premium price for Burger King’s popular plant-based burger had they known the Impossible Whopper comes into contact with and is effectively contaminated by meat by-products.
“0% Beef, 100% Whopper”
Miami-headquartered Burger King effectively disrupted the fast food ecosystem—and welcomed into the fold swathes of paying vegan customers—when it introduced the “Impossible” Whopper, a plant-based, meat-free, synthetic alternative to traditional meat patties, at select locations in August 2019. Manufactured and distributed by non-party Impossible Foods Inc., the “0% beef” Impossible Whopper almost instantly separated itself from other vegan meat substitutes due to what the lawsuit describes as its “impressive” meat-like appearance, texture and taste, not to mention its protein content and nutritional benefits.
Unbeknownst to consumers vegan and non-vegan alike, however, Burger King does not use a separate vegan-friendly grill to cook Impossible Whoppers, the lawsuit claims. The plaintiff, who the suit says practices a strict vegan diet and consumes nothing that contains animal by-products, alleges that Burger King cooks the Impossible Whopper on the same grills as its traditional meat-based products, thereby covering the meat-free patty with meat by-product.
The case argues that consumers pay Burger King a premium price for the vegan product on the sole basis that it is a meat-free option, and reasonably believe based on the defendant’s representations that the Impossible Whopper is “prepared in a manner that maintained its qualities as a vegan (meat-free) burger patty.” The plaintiff argues that had consumers known the truth about how Burger King prepared the Impossible Whopper, they never would have bought the product.
Case Claims Consumers ‘Duped’ by Lack of Disclosure
A sticking point in the complaint is that Burger King, according to the plaintiff, makes no disclosures on its in-store or drive-thru menus that inform consumers prior to purchase that the Impossible Whopper is cooked in a manner that could cause it to be contaminated with meat by-product. Strict vegans such as the plaintiff, the lawsuit argues, legitimately believed they were paying Burger King for a premium meat-free alternative. Essentially, an Impossible patty covered in meat by-product is in no way meat-free, according to the suit.
“Plaintiff, like the other members of the Class, reasonably believed that the Impossible Whopper was in fact ‘0% beef’ and, therefore, did not contain any meat or meat by-products,” the lawsuit reads. “Plaintiff would not have purchased the Impossible Whopper if he knew that it was cooked in such a manner that it was coated in meat by-products.”
Who’s covered by this lawsuit?
The case looks to cover consumers across the United States who bought Burger King’s Impossible Whopper and asks the court to injunctively order the company to plainly disclose that the Impossible Whopper is cooked on the same grill as other meat.
The lawsuit alleges violations of Florida’s Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act.
The complaint can be read below.
Camp Lejeune residents now have the opportunity to claim compensation for harm suffered from contaminated water.
Read more here: Camp Lejeune Lawsuit Claims
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