Burger King’s beef-free Whopper may not be so meatless after all — at least according to one vegan customer.
That’s the argument being made in a lawsuit filed Monday in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, in which the plaintiff, Phillip Williams, claims the fast-food chain failed to disclose that its plant-based Impossible Whoppers are cooked on the same grills as beef products.
The class action suit accuses Burger King of undertaking “false and misleading business practices” in the marketing and sale of its meatless burgers and notes that vegans would not purchase the Impossible patties if they knew they had been prepared next to meat options.
Williams, who practices “a strict vegan diet,” bought an Impossible Whopper at a drive-thru in Atlanta in August or around that time, according to court documents. The complaint said he was “duped by Burger King’s deceptive practices into eating a meat-free Whopper Patty that was in fact covered in meat byproducts,” though it did not specify how he came to know this was the case.
The complaint calls on the fast-food chain to return all the profits it had gained from selling the meat-free alternative, including the money Williams paid.
Burger King declined to discuss the matter Tuesday. “We do not comment on pending litigation,” a company representative said in an email. Williams could not immediately be reached for comment.
Burger King developed the Impossible Whopper in conjunction with Impossible Foods, a company in California that develops plant-based alternatives to meat products. It and other companies, including Los Angeles-based producer Beyond Meat, are part of a rising food industry trend toward imitating or replacing meat options.
It is not the first time this year Burger King has faced criticism over its meatless burger.
In early June, the company apologized after it was surfaced that a Brooklyn-area location had been delivering beef Whoppers to customers who had ordered Impossible Whoppers on the Seamless app. Burger King ascribed the problem to a “technology error,” according to several news reports.