Fast food chains McDonald’s and Burger King rejected any provocation to mislead consumers in the case of “fake hamburgers,” in which stores sell picanha sandwiches without picanha meat and ribs without the rib cut, respectively.
According to the companies, the indication that the flavors are served with sauces, not with hamburger meat, was clearly stated in their advertisements and sales reports.
The information was sent in writing to the Senate Committee on Inspection and Control and Defense (CTFC). public hearing on the allegations this Thursday (12). The case was announced on the Coma Com Os Olhos blog in April.
In the document, Burger King said that “all items served in restaurants and sold online offer a complete menu with all ingredients.” The network presented photos of the Rib Whopper, denoting the composition “a pork hamburger with the taste of ribs.”
BK emphasized that the discussed hamburger, which has been sold since 24 November 2021, is registered with the Ministry of Agriculture, stating that it contains 95% pork, 5% spices and additives. According to the company, the recording was never questioned by the authorities.
“During the marketing period, this information was clear and available to the consumer: the flavor was the rib, not the cut of the rib,” the company says. “The components of the product have always been within the reach of the consumer with all forms of communication. So much so that in this sense, the blog ‘Coma Com os Olhos’ had no trouble finding the information,” BK added.
“Like most foods in the food industry in general – which qualifies their flavor without including the relevant raw material (this is not present in nature) such as strawberry-flavored strawberry-free ice cream, cheese-free cheese crackers, chicken-free instant chicken-flavored noodles, barbecue-flavored potato chips – Rib Whopper® gets its name from its flavor. there is nothing wrong because
Underlining that all regulatory guidelines that shape the industry, such as consumption rules, advertising regulations and sanitary regulations, are complied with, the company said:
A similar claim was made by McDonald’s, which markets New McPicanha as a “100% beef hamburger” and picanha-flavored mayonnaise. According to the company, the sign that the flavor came from the sauce was displayed in advertising pieces and on the menu offered to consumers, which meant misleading advertisements.
“From a simple analysis of the contact pieces, it is possible to confirm that the Company never specified that the hamburger would consist of picanha meat. On the contrary. Both the advertising material that clearly states it is ‘100% beef with picanha flavored sauce’ and the marketing of ‘New McPicanha’ were done in good faith to convey the taste of the new flavor to consumers. The product range always emphasizes the composition of the sandwich and never intends to mislead its consumers.”
“Brazilian consumers are accustomed to buying products that are not identified by their composition, but by names that refer to the flavor, aroma and experience they offer. […] It is certainly a common practice that consumers are widely accustomed to.”
After reporting potentially misleading advertisements, the Federal Territory Consumer Defense Institute (Procon) decided to stop the sale of the products and remove the advertising segments. Both networks complied and BK changed the menu and started selling the sandwich as “Whopper Paleta Suína” in line with legal requirements.
In the Senate, Marcelo de Souza do Nascimento, managing director of Procon-DF, stated that it was clear that there were misleading advertisements in the sale of products. According to him, the application is characterized by any kind of information or advertising communication that may mislead the consumer about the nature and features of the product.
“Advertising is the main way we consumers buy a certain product, what catches the attention of consumers is the martyr used by companies. But special regulation must be followed for advertising campaigns, including goodwill, transparency and trust.”
“In this case, it was not a product unfit for consumption. It was a matter of advertising that would convince the consumer that they were buying a steak sandwich when there was only steak in the sauce, as advertised,” he concluded about the McDonald’s product.
Mariana Gondo, lawyer of the Brazilian Consumer Protection Institute (Idec), stressed that the Consumer Protection Act (CDC) does not allow violation of the right to information. Also, according to him, another decree addressing the ground rules for food requires knowledge of the legible use of sweeteners that fast-food companies would ignore.
“We’re not talking about tutti-frutti-flavored neon pink candies that consumers expect to find tutti-frutti out there. “We’re talking about sandwiches with all the advertisements and products being advertised, the consumer has a fair expectation that these products contain ingredients highlighted with stars,” he said.
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