Burger King does not care about the sustainability or prosperity of your farm or ranch. Oh, the company would never admit to as much, but that’s the only conclusion one can draw from the fast food giant’s latest drivel disguised as an advertising campaign.
On Tuesday, Burger King launched promotions for its new “eco-friendly” Whopper, burgers made from cattle that have been fed a diet with 100 grams of lemongrass, an ingredient the company says cuts methane emissions from the cattle by 33%. By itself, such a claim is harmless enough even though the benefits of lemongrass as cattle feed remain dubious.
Unfortunately, in its attempt to claim leadership in battling climate change while courting customers, Burger King succumbed to the temptation of repeating misleading claims and data about beef production. In short, the new eco-friendly Whopper is nothing more than an advertising agency created whopper.
In a statement introducing us to the eco-friendly Whopper, Burger King noted “cattle are responsible for roughly 14.5% of global greenhouse gas emissions,” which is a number from the United Nations. What Burger King doesn’t say is that American beef production is responsible for 3% of greenhouse gas emissions. The disparity is due to the fact livestock production in the world’s developing countries is much less efficient.
Then there are the “alternative facts” Burger King’s new campaign promotes. Let’s start with lemongrass. Burger King claims to have partnered with “top scientists” in developing the diet to reduce methane, but at least one “top scientist” is skeptical.
In an interview with Farm Journal Live on Tuesday, Dr. Frank Mitloehner, a University of California/Davis professor and generally regarded as one of the world’s leading experts on air quality, said there are technologies that can reduce methane production by up to one-third, but, “lemongrass is not one of them.”
Mitloehner said two studies were conducted on lemongrass. One, conducted at UC Davis, “and their results have been inconclusive. The second one in Mexico and their research has not been published,” meaning not peer reviewed. Therefore, Mitloehner calls Burger King’s promotion of lemongrass “premature.”
Everyone in beef and dairy production would love it if lemongrass proves to be a tool to further cut the environmental footprint of livestock production. But we’re not there yet, and to say otherwise is – at best – misleading.
Finally, let’s discuss cow farts. Mitloehner is clearly disgusted with Burger King for using it as “the hook” on which to hang their advertising. “It’s too important to make a joke about.”
Indeed, the majority of the methane emissions emerge from the other end of the cow! In a nutshell, Burger King’s new eco-friendly campaign is about selling more burgers even if that means repeating misinformation damaging to your business. What a whopper!