What a Whopper: Burger King’s New Commercial About Cow Farts Has Farmers Angry

A Burger King ad about cow farts is drawing controversy.
A Burger King ad about cow farts is drawing controversy. / Burger King, YouTube

While we rarely look to fast food franchises or their menus to teach us ecological lessons, that hasn’t stopped Burger King from taking a break conceiving of new breakfast items and making an attempt to influence the conversation over global warming.

Despite the company's good intentions, farmers aren’t happy about it. Specifically, they’re displeased with blame being placed on cow farts.

The ad, which can be seen below, features a catchy song about cows emitting methane gas, a contributor to global warming. With a proper diet that includes lemongrass, the chain says, those emissions could be reduced. The message is delivered by Mason Ramsey, a 13-year-old yodeler who went viral two years ago for his rendition of “Lovesick Blues” by Hank Williams.

According to the BBC, spokespeople for the farming industry and scientists don’t find the message all that charming. While some farmers find the ad condescending and fear it portrays them as insensitive to climate issues, it may also be backed by incomplete statistical data. Scientists say that cow burps, not farts, are the real problem.

“IT’S. NOT. THE. COW. FARTS,” Frank Mitloehner, a professor at the University of California Davis Department of Animal Science wrote on Twitter. “Nearly all enteric methane from cattle is from belching. Suggesting otherwise turns this serious climate topic into a joke.”

Burger King owner Restaurant Brands International defended the marketing approach, saying that feeding cows used for its patties 100 grams of dried lemongrass daily reduced methane emissions by 33 percent.

The research, which was conducted by the Autonomous University of the State of Mexico, has not been published. Critics point out that the reduced emissions are only during the last three to four months of a cow’s life, leaving the remainder—up to 24 months total—to produce typical amounts of gas. As a result, the lifetime reduction of methane emission may only be 3 percent.

A new eco-conscious Whopper made with the reduced-methane beef will be available at select locations in Miami, New York, Austin, Portland, and Los Angeles starting Tuesday.