PhotoA vegan consumer has filed suit against Burger King, charging its meatless Impossible Whopper shares a cooking surface with the restaurant’s beef burgers and is therefore “contaminated” with meat residue.

The consumer, Phillip Williams, filed suit in federal court in Miami saying he would not have purchased an Impossible Whopper had he known it would have been “coated in meat by-products.” Williams is seeking class status for all other vegan consumers who have purchased an Impossible Whopper.

Williams’ suit is asking the court to issue an injunction to require the fast-food chain to “plainly disclose” the way impossible Whoppers are prepared. Burger King’s parent company declined to comment.

But the company’s defense may rest on how the product was presented to the public from the beginning. Burger King’s website has always described the Impossible Whopper as a menu item for consumers looking for something other than meat. It says a non-broiler method of preparation is “available upon request.”

‘Not designed for vegetarians’

Impossible Foods, which helped create the Impossible Whopper, went a step further. The company says the product was never designed for vegans or vegetarians, but for meat-eaters who want to add more plant-based food to their diet.

Burger King introduced the meatless Whopper in a small trial last spring and after several weeks, declared it a success. Within weeks, the company said the meatless Whopper had resulted in a noticeable increase in traffic at the St. Louis area stores where the Impossible Whopper was being sold.

The controversy over “meat contamination” goes back to August when Bloomberg published an interview with Chris Finazzo, Burger King’s president in the Americas region, who said the Impossible Whopper would be cooked with the same broilers as the beef patties.

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