A federal judge in Florida has dismissed a lawsuit against Burger King that claimed its meatless Impossible Whopper deceived vegans and vegetarians.
The suit was filed last November by seven vegan plaintiffs who sought class-action status. They claimed that Burger King’s popular plant-based burger wasn’t a vegetarian product because it was cooked on the same grill as the chain’s beef hamburger patties.
In their complaint, the plaintiffs claimed that consumers were deceived into paying extra for the Impossible Whopper because they believed it was a vegetarian product, when in fact it was “tainted” by being cooked on the same surface as beef.
U.S. District Judge Raag Singhal dismissed the suit, saying Burger King never advertised its Impossible Whopper as a vegetarian or vegan product. In his opinion, he noted that the seven plaintiffs did not ask Burger King how it cooked its Impossible Whopper or request an alternative.
The original plaintiff, 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.” The company’s defense rested on how the product was presented to the public from the beginning.
Burger King’s website always described the Impossible Whopper as a menu item for consumers looking for something other than meat. It further said a non-broiler method of preparation is “available upon request.”
Not designed for vegans or vegetarians
When the suit was filed last year, Impossible Foods, which helped create the Impossible Whopper, issued a statement saying that the product was never designed for vegans or vegetarians, but for meat-eaters who want to add more plant-based food to their diet. To the judge, that was the crux of the case.
“Burger King promised a non-meat patty and delivered,” Singhal wrote in his opinion dismissing the suit.
Burger King introduced the Impossible Whopper in August 2019 after a successful test market and saw an immediate boost to sales. CEO Jose Cil called it “something that can be part of the Burger King menu for the long term.”
While the popularity of the meatless burger wasn’t enough to boost Burger King’s fourth-quarter profits to the extent Wall Street expected, the company called it an important driver of overall sales.
In January, Burger King reduced the price of the Impossible Whopper as sales slowed.