On Monday, Azam Hussain filed a class action lawsuit in the Northern District of California against Burger King Corporation alleging unfair competition and fraud for the use of per- and polyfluoralkyl substances (PFAS) in its products packaging.
According to the complaint, Burger King has undergone a global rebrand to make the Burger King brand “feel less synthetic and artificial, and more real, crave-able and tasty.”
The complaint purports that part of this rebrand includes marketing and advertising campaigns emphasizing a commitment to transparency and sustainability in its products. This includes advertising statements such as “Have it Your Way, the Real way[:] All the flavors you crave without the ingredients you don’t” and “there shouldn’t be any secrets in our sauce (or anything else)” and branding that “evokes the natural, organic shape of food.”
The plaintiff argues that there is enormous incentive for companies such as Burger King to market their products as safe and sustainable because recent surveys show that a vast majority of consumers primarily consider the safety, sustainability and the absence of toxic chemicals when purchasing a product.
According to the complaint, the plaintiff has purchased products from Burger King including its popular Whopper product based on Burger King’s claims that the Whopper was safe for consumption and a sustainable product. However, Hussain argues that himself and other similarly situated consumers were harmed and deceived by Burger King’s false advertising due to the presence of PFASs in the Whopper’s packaging.
The complaint purports that PFAS are a group of synthetic chemicals known to be harmful to both the environment and humans. Additionally, the complaint states that studies by the CDC and other laboratories have found that PFAS have been associated with thyroid disorders, immunotoxic effects, liver damage, decreased fertility, asthma and various cancers. Further, the complaint alleges that an independent research by Consumer Reports found that the Whopper packaging contains PFAS levels over 3 million times the safe consumption level set by the EPA.
The plaintiff argues that Burger King’s representations would cause a reasonable consumer to expect that a Whopper can be safely purchased and consumed as marketed and sold, when the Whopper is not safe for consumers nor the environment.
Accordingly, the plaintiff brings his claims on behalf of himself and the other class members for violation of California’s Unfair Competition Law, violation of the Consumer Legal Remedies Act, breach of the Implied Warranty, violation of California’s False Advertising Law, fraud, constructive fraud, fraudulent inducement, money had and received, fraudulent omission or concealment, fraudulent misrepresentation, negligent misrepresentation, unjust enrichment, breach of express warranty and negligent failure to warn. The plaintiffs seek class certification declaratory and injunctive relief, compensatory, statutory and punitive damages, prejudgment interest, restitution, medical monitoring to safeguard the class members’ health and to mitigate any damages for future medical treatment, attorney’s fees and cost.
The plaintiffs are represented by Bursor & Fisher, P.A.