Burger King Corporation faces a proposed class action that alleges the fast food giant’s product packaging is loaded with synthetic per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) known as “forever chemicals.”
The 36-page suit in California contends that the presence of forever chemicals in the packaging used by Burger King, including for the Whopper, makes the food unsafe, unfit for human consumption and unsustainable given PFAS tend to accumulate over time. The case charges that Burger King has failed to inform consumers at any point that its food packaging is unsafe for humans and harmful to the environment, even at very low levels.
“Plaintiff and Class Members bargained for products that are safe for consumption and sustainable, and were deprived of the basis of their bargain when Defendant sold them a product in packaging containing dangerous substances with well-known health and environmental consequences,” the case alleges.
According to the complaint, independent research conducted by Consumer Reports found that Burger King’s product packaging contains 249.7 parts per million (ppm) of total organic fluorine, far in excess of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) health advisor limit of 70 nanograms per liter for safe consumption.
“To put this in perspective, 1 part per million is the equivalent of 1,000,000 nanograms per liter,” the lawsuit states. “Accordingly, the Product would expose a consumer to PFAS at levels that are several orders of magnitude higher than one would receive from drinking a liter of water that contains PFAS at the level considered safe by the EPA.”
The lawsuit stresses that Burger King’s corporate and marketing persona has come to rely heavily on statements that the food contains responsibly sourced, quality ingredients, and that the company aims for its products to “look how we taste.” Burger King’s product packaging, the suit says, “amplify[ies] this ethos,” evoking the “natural, organic shape of food” with warmer colors and emphasis on the company’s “natural” and “green” bona fides.
Although Burger King reported to investors following its recent “green” rebrand that it had advanced work on sustainable packaging and recycling, among other shifts toward more eco-conscientious operations, the restaurant’s packaging nevertheless still contains PFAS, the complaint relays. The case charges that Burger King has chosen not to reveal to consumers that certain product packaging contains PFAS, and instead concealed this information due to the cost savings linked to the use of the chemicals, which reportedly act as a barrier against grease.
According to the complaint, forever chemicals have been linked to liver damage, cancer, fertility issues and other health problems.
The lawsuit looks to cover all persons in the United States who bought a Burger King Whopper whose packaging contained PFAS.
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