Burger King has been rebuked by the UK’s advertising watchdog for promoting a plant-based burger as vegan when it was cooked on the same grill as meat products.
The case once again casts the issue of kitchen design into the spotlight, particularly when it comes to the use of separate appliances for vegan menu items.
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) ruled that three Burger King ads, posted via Twitter and Facebook during January 2020, suggested that its ‘Rebel Whopper’ burger could be eaten by vegans and vegetarians.
The posts referred to the product as containing no beef and included a logo featuring ‘The Vegetarian Butcher’.
However, the ASA said it understood that although the patty itself was plant-based, it was cooked on the same grill as meat products.
While it noted that “small text at the bottom of the image” qualified that it was “cooked alongside meat products”, it said it was not “sufficiently prominent” to override the overall impression that the burger was suitable for vegetarians and vegans.
The watchdog received 10 complaints from customers who challenged whether the claims “100% Whopper No Beef” and “plant-based burger” were misleading because it was cooked alongside meat products and used egg-based mayonnaise.
The ASA deemed that BKUK Group, trading as Burger King, had breached the ad code around misleading advertising by giving the impression that the burger was suitable for vegans and vegetarians.
Burger King has been banned from using the ads again in their current form and been warned to ensure that it does not misleadingly imply that a product is suitable for vegans and vegetarians if it is not.
Burger King argued that the small print at the bottom of the ads stated that the Rebel Whopper may not be suitable for vegans or vegetarians “as it was cooked alongside other meat products”.
It said the information was clearly communicated to journalists and clearly stated on all social media posts and subsequent customer dialogue.
The chain said the product itself consisted of a 100% plant-based patty supplied by the Vegetarian Butcher and had no beef.
It added that a customer who did not want mayonnaise could have excluded that from their order.