Burger King Changes Diet of Its Cows

A little lemongrass could help combat climate change
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jul 14, 2020 2:18 PM CDT
Burger King Gives Cows a Diet That's Less Gaseous
A Jersey cow feeds in a field In Fairfield, Iowa.   (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall, File)

Burger King is staging an intervention with its cows, per the AP. The chain has rebalanced the daily diet of some of the cows by adding 100 grams of lemongrass in a bid to limit bovine contributions to climate change. By tweaking the diet, Burger King said Tuesday that it believes it can reduce a cow's daily methane emissions by about 33%. Cows emit methane as a byproduct of their digestion, and that has become a potential public relations hurdle for major burger chains. Greenhouse gas emissions from the agriculture sector made up 9.9% of total US greenhouse gas emissions in 2018, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Of that amount, methane emissions from livestock (called enteric fermentation) comprised more than a quarter. Preliminary tests indicate Burger King's changes are working.

Burger King is banking on the heightened awareness of climate change. According to a recent poll by the AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, about two out of three Americans say corporations have a responsibility to combat climate change. Potential customers are cutting down on the amount of meat they consume, citing both environmental and dietary concerns, and Burger King and McDonald's have added meat alternatives to their menus. Two years ago, McDonald's said it was tweaking the manner in which the beef in its Big Macs and Quarter Pounders was produced. The company said it expected the changes to cut 165 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. On Tuesday, Burger King introduced its Reduced Methane Emissions Beef Whopper, made with beef sourced from cows that emit reduced methane, in select restaurants in Miami, New York, Austin, Portland, and Los Angeles.

(More Burger King stories.)

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