Burger King “Keeps it Real,” Removes 120 Artificial Ingredients

Years after Chipotle and Panera got rid of artificial ingredients, Burger King announced that they have permanently removed 120 artificial ingredients from their foods. More surprising than how late this announcement is, is that there were 120 artificial ingredients in their food. The complete list can be viewed here. And, they aren’t claiming to be “all natural” — so there are still artificial ingredients left in their kitchen!  

If this news makes you think it’s time to head out for a delicious Whopper, don’t. While their food may no longer be filled with artificial ingredients, it’s still processed fast food brimming with fat, sugar and calories.  

The marketing tactic of banning artificial flavors and colors doesn’t necessarily make burgers and fries all that much healthier,” said registered dietician Abby Langer. “In fact, many of the ingredients on the list, such as MSG, vanillin, bleached flour, glutaminc acid and astaxanthin are completely harmless. Burger King is still fast food that’s mostly ultra-processed.”

While announcing that they were removing these ingredients, they also announced new “Keep It Real Meals” endorsed by celebrities. One of the meals consists of a breaded chicken sandwich, mozzarella sticks and a chocolate milkshake. It clocks in at 1,999 calories, 96 grams of fat, 228 grams of carbs and eight grams of fiber. To pair the “healthy” news about the removal of the ingredients along with the unveiling of these meals makes us look at the calendar — it has to be April Fools’ Day, right?

We know our guests’ expectations are changing, and they want to make choices they can feel good about,” said Burger King North America CMO Ellie Doty. “By banning these 120 ingredients from our food, we’re offering guests an easy choice – delicious food made with quality ingredients. We’re confident that our ongoing commitment to real food will not only provide guests with the food they’re looking for, but also set a standard for the industry overall.”

Maybe it can prompt changes for other burger restaurants. But it won’t be a leader for other fast-food restaurants in general as many changed their practices years and years ago.

Overall, this news feels more horrifying than anything else. Everyone eats fast food now and again. Even when you are trying your best to be healthy, sometimes you want to grab something quickly. And, sometimes, you want a special treat. But learning that there have been at least 120 artificial ingredients in Burger King foods is a lot to take in. Not every artificial ingredient is harmful, but the sheer number is alarming. And, coupling the announcement that they’re removing them with the introduction of the unhealthy meals underscores that they aren’t committed to any real change. They may have taken out the artificial ingredients, but they haven’t made their food any better for their customers. Their statements implying that they have improved their ways are misleading. If you want a treat from Burger King, know what you are ordering and its nutritional information beforehand — it’s likely no better than it was before.    

Banner image: Ismail Hadine via Unsplash

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