Saturday, April 20, 2013

Burger King Horse Meat Incident

Burger King is well known for their Mascot, The King, and their most famous burger, The Whopper. In the United Kingdom, Burger King had reached scrutiny among the citizens of Great Britain. Burger King was being accused of containing horse meat within their burger patties.

Burger King and supermarket chains have been affected by this unfortunate phenomena. It was speculated that a Polish distributor (whose name had been kept anonymous) had been incorporating other types of meat as fillers for the cheaper burger patties of their clients. Burger King consistently advertised to the consumers that their burger meet was made of 100% beef. Burger King loses credibility when other forms of meat have been found. Burger King's reputation and sales had dramatically decreased due to this incident. In response to the situation, Burger King had ended their contract and doing business with Silvercrest, their food processing plant provider. Slivercrest  had received their meat from the unknown Polish distributor that was accused of injecting horse meat into their meat, without the consent of Burger King.

To further cover Burger King's tracks and improve their poor reputation, Burger King had performed an experiment; to verify that their meat products from their own restaurants did not contain any traces of equine (Horse DNA). After performing a number of tests, Burger had not found any traces of meat in their own products.  But after performing the same tests in Silvercrest's meat, the results presented that there was a small dose of equine in their meat products, further solidifying that termination was the right solution.

Based on the results of the test, their is no direct evidence to suggest that Burger King had served horse meat. At the same expense, this does not prove that other stores of Burger King had not inadvertently done so.

When Burger King promoted to their consumers that their burger patties were 100% beef, this is a bold statement and consumers expect that to be true. When ever consumers have the sense of false advertising or have the feeling of betrayal, consumers are less inclined to purchase a company's products. Common sense. In Europe, meat quality is higher than the US due to the strict guidelines and procedures the meat goes through. It will be difficult for Burger King to gain the trust of consumers they once had. I thought that performing tests on both the restaurant's meat products and Silvercrest's meat products was a great way for Burger King to show that their promotion was true. But it's very difficult to change the consumer's perceptions since Silvercrest and the Polish distributor were directly linked back to Burger King.

An interesting study from an outside research company named YouGov BrandIndex had performed on the US and UK public. The study was to determine whether "... the brand's "buzz score" has been damaged by this recent issue. The company asked the question: "If you've heard anything about the brand in the last two weeks, through advertising, news or word of mouth, was it positive or negative?"
Unsurprisingly, the "buzz score" for UK consumers fell significantly, from 2 to -15; overall brand score fell from -8 to -18. Scores were calculated based on good and bad feedback, which were given positive and negative numeric values that were added together. The U.S. drop, however, was only minor." ( This makes sense that the score would display a significant drop in the UK compared to the US considering this incident happened in the UK. Hope you enjoyed this story. Feel free to leave a comment for further discussion.


  1. Interesting story. The horse meat scandal was huge across Europe. Burger King was the only one being affected. Would be interesting to see how other fast food chains were hit. Do you know if McDonald's had any problems? In any case BK can learn from Taco Bell in handling their crisis communication.

  2. No kidding. The article I read made it seem like Burger King was the only company that was directly affected since their supplier's supplier was the company giving out that meat. Maybe other fast food burger joints were indirectly affected since the other franchises are American made.