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Burger King Pushes ‘Reduced Methane’ Beef to Fight Climate Change


FILE - In this May 8, 2018, filephoto, Burger King is announcing its work to help address a core industry challenge: the environmental impact of beef.
Burger King Pushes ‘Reduced Methane’ Beef to Fight Climate Change
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The fast food company Burger King wants to change the way cows eat in an effort to limit climate change.

The restaurant chain said it is adding a different plant, called lemongrass, to the diet of cows that provide meat for the restaurant group.

The fast food chain announced the Reduced Methane Emissions Beef Whopper on Tuesday. The hamburger is made with beef from cows that release less methane gas, the company says. The burgers will be available in Los Angeles, Miami, New York City, Austin, Texas and Portland, Oregon for a limited time.

Burger King is also testing an advertising campaign that it hopes will persuade buyers that the company cares about the environment. The social media campaign includes a child dressed as a cowboy singing about cows and the environment. The campaign also uses terms some people consider vulgar to describe the release of methane gas.

The company best known for the Whopper hamburger worries the public may disapprove if it does nothing to fight climate change. A recent public opinion study by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research suggests the company might be right. It found that two out of three Americans say corporations have a responsibility to fight climate change.

FILE - This April 25, 2019, file photo shows a Burger King in Redwood City, Calif. Burger King is announcing its work to help address a core industry challenge: the environmental impact of beef. To help tackle this environmental issue, the Burger King br
FILE - This April 25, 2019, file photo shows a Burger King in Redwood City, Calif. Burger King is announcing its work to help address a core industry challenge: the environmental impact of beef. To help tackle this environmental issue, the Burger King br

Burger King said Tuesday it believes that adding lemongrass to the cows’ diet can reduce methane by about 33 percent.

Methane is a carbon-based gas that is released when organic material breaks down, such as during digestion inside animals. Scientists say cows release a lot of methane as they digest grass and other plant material. Methane is also considered a greenhouse gas, meaning it can trap heat in the atmosphere.

The Environmental Protection Agency says greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture made up just under 10 percent of total, U.S. emissions in 2018. Methane from cows made up about one fourth of that amount.

The Associated Press reports that Burger King worked with scientists at Mexico’s Autonomous University of Mexico State and the University of California, Davis. The researchers added 100 grams of lemongrass leaves to the cows’ daily diets. In early tests, they said the addition caused the cows to release less methane.

Two years ago, competitor McDonald’s said it was taking steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. At the time, the company said changes to the way it made Big Macs and Quarter Pounder hamburgers could cut emissions. McDonald’s said the move would keep 150 million tons of methane out of the atmosphere by 2030.

I’m Mario Ritter, Jr.

Michelle Chapman reported this story for the Associated Press. Mario Ritter Jr. adapted it for VOA Learning English. Bryan Lynn was the editor.

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Words in This Story

chain –n. a business with many different stores, restaurants or hotels, for example, that have a similar appearance and provide the same products or services

vulgar adj. something that does not show good manners, good taste or good behavior

digestion –n. the process within the body that breaks down food into energy and needed substances

emission n. the act of producing or sending out something (such as energy or gas) from a source

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