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Burger King Warns of Grilled Chicken Cancer Risk: Fast-Food Chain Settles PCRM Lawsuit

Burger KingBurger King is the first of seven national restaurant chains to settle a lawsuit filed by PCRM over a dangerous carcinogen found in the companies’ grilled chicken. As part of its agreement with PCRM, Burger King has posted warning signs in its California restaurants to alert customers that its grilled chicken products contain PhIP, a cancer-causing compound produced when meats are cooked at high temperatures.

“We appreciate Burger King’s decision to warn customers that grilled chicken dishes contain dangerous carcinogens,” said PCRM president Neal Barnard, M.D. “Health-conscious Americans have long steered clear of fried chicken, but many have no idea that grilled chicken may be as bad or worse.”

PCRM filed suit against Burger King, along with McDonald’s, Chick-fil-A, Applebee’s, Outback Steakhouse, Chili’s Grill and Bar, and T.G.I. Friday’s in January 2008 for knowingly exposing customers to PhIP without warning them of its risks. The case was filed under California’s Proposition 65, which states that consumers must be warned about products that contain known carcinogens. For more than a decade, PhIP has been on the California governor’s list of chemicals known to cause cancer.

PCRM filed this suit after commissioning an independent laboratory to test 100 grilled chicken samples from chain locations throughout California. The laboratory tested Burger King’s Tendergrill Chicken Sandwich, which was found to contain PhIP. But Burger King does offer PhIP-free menu options: The BK Veggie and the Veggie Whopper (Burger King’s meatless sandwiches) do not contain PhIP, which forms only in animal protein.

In September, PCRM scientists published a study in the journal Nutrition and Cancer showing that PhIP is pervasive in grilled chicken products.

Burger King has stepped up and warned its California customers about PhIP, but the other six defendants continue to fight the lawsuit, hoping to be able to avoid informing customers about the cancer-causing chemicals in their products.

Neal Barnard, M.D.
Neal Barnard, M.D.

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