BRAZIL, DF (FOLHAPRESS) – Brazilian fast food chains McDonald’s and Burger King have sent letters to the Federal Senate denying allegations of misleading advertising for their sandwiches (McPicanha and Whopper Costela, respectively). The companies claim that they have always explained to consumers the composition of the meat used.
McDonald’s went even further and stated that Brazilians are accustomed to consuming and buying products whose names do not necessarily refer to their composition.
“Brazilian consumers are accustomed to buying products whose names refer to the taste, aroma and feel they offer, and not necessarily their composition,”
said in an excerpt from a letter received by the report.
The company also claims that the use of a sauce with this particular picanha flavor added more flavor to the sandwich than the use of the meat itself. He also adds that when sirloin meat is minced to make a hamburger, it loses most of its properties, without transferring its characteristic flavor to the hamburger.
Representatives from the two fast food chains were invited to attend a Federal Senate hearing on Thursday (12) to explain the cases. However, those responsible for McDonald’s in Brazil and for Burger King warned the parliamentarians that they would not come and decided to send out letters with their excuses.
The hearing is still scheduled, initially with the possible participation of representatives from Procon of the Federal District, Anvisa (National Health Surveillance Agency) and Idec (Brazilian Consumer Protection Institute).
In late April, the Justice Department notified McDonald’s after the chain publicly confirmed that the snacks in its recently launched McPicanha line were not made from picanha. The sandwich is actually made with a flavorful sauce.
Consumers wrote a series of complaints on social networks, to the point that the networks came to remove the sandwich from the menu across the country. However, a few days later he announced that he would be reorganized, but under a new name. In a video on his Instagram page, the fast food giant said he “failed” when choosing the sandwich’s name.
McPicanha will return to the menu under a new name, says McDonald’s: “The same taste that people loved.”
A few days later, it was Burger King’s turn to get involved in a similar controversy. On Monday (2), the Procon of the Federal District suspended the sale of Whopper Ribs in the federal capital, which does not contain ribs. Burger King claims the burger is made from pork shoulder and has “natural rib flavor”.
In a letter sent to the Senate, Arcos Dourados Comércio de Alimentos, the owner of McDonald’s in Brazil, confirms that it suspended the sale of the Novos McPicanha sandwiches as soon as it saw the controversy. He said he acted “with integrity and transparency” in both product development and advertising campaigns.
“The sandwiches of this new range have been designed to complement the 100% beef hamburger made from the largest selection of cuts offered by the company with an exclusive picanha sauce (natural picanha flavor developed by Kerry do Brasil), to give consumers an even richer taste of Brazilian picanha”,
A McDonald’s spokesperson adds that the explanation that this is a beef burger with a pican-flavored sauce was in all advertising materials and even on the packaging of sandwiches.
According to Procon, Burger King could be fined more than 11 million reais.
Finally, it is concluded that Brazilian consumers are accustomed to this practice.
“For decades, products have been sold in Brazil that carry a taste or aroma in their name, but do not necessarily contain the ingredients that give that taste. It should also be noted that, especially the mention of flavorings, this is an absolutely common practice that consumers widely use.”
Ribbed whopper without ribs
BK Brasil, the main franchisee of the Burger King brand in Brazil, also emphasized that the composition of the Whopper Costela sandwich has always been known to consumers and the Brazilian authorities. He mentioned that the snack is registered with the “Ministry of the Environment, Agriculture and Livestock” – in fact there will be two folders: the Ministry of the Environment and the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Supply.
Thus, the authorities will be informed that the hamburger is 95% pork, and the rest of the ingredients are condiments.
“The Whopper Rib Pork Burger is specified to have the aroma and taste of pork ribs. This information was clear and available to the consumer throughout the implementation period: the taste was rib meat, not rib meat cuts, ”the excerpt from a letter sent to the Senate says.
The company also claims that some products in the food sector evaluate their tastes without the appropriate raw materials. As an example, he cites fruit-free strawberry-flavored ice cream.
BK Brasil also claims that the consequences were “abnormal” and “unjustified” and that they caused “hype” among some consumers looking for product names or advertising claims that did not match the ingredients in natura.
The company also adds that it has changed the name of the sandwich to Whopper Paleta Suína in the name of transparency and its policy of maintaining an ongoing dialogue with its consumers.
“Therefore, far from characterizing an admission of guilt or an assumption of responsibility, BK Brasil made this decision out of respect for the consumer,” the letter reads.
The author of the hearing request, Senator Nelsinho Trad (PSD-MS), points out that the rationales provided by the companies are not entirely true, given that the comments on the composition of the hamburgers were small.
“We cannot view this case as a simple mistake in an advertising campaign. In one of the cases, a sandwich is named after a piece of meat, it is revealed in the image, in which the appetizer appears next to the same piece and only in small print, very small, by the way, it is specified that this is a “rib taste”,
told the report.
“In another case, it is also written in small print on the banner that the promotion is valid for persons over 12 years old. What is the problem with consumption below this age group? Respect for the right of every person to health and to receive accurate and detailed information about products is a principle that should guide all actions of those who intend to operate in the market. It is important that this case be taken seriously and that it serve as an example. The Brazilian consumer is demanding and attentive,” he adds.