Burger King shows moldy Whopper in new ad campaign

The chain has removed preservatives in its Whoppers in more than 400 U.S. restaurants

Burger King announced it will remove all artificial preservatives from its Whopper with an unappetizing ad campaign.

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The  Miami-based fast-food restaurant chain rolled out an ad featuring its signature burger sandwich covered in mold to promote its milestone of removing artificial preservatives from its Whopper in more than 400 restaurants in the U.S. and its plans to do so everywhere nationally by the end of the year, the fast-food giant announced Wednesday.

Burger King's new ad campaign features a moldy Whopper. 

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The burger chain also announced that more than 90 percent of its ingredients won’t contain artificial colors, flavors and preservatives. BK also said it removed MSG and high-fructose corn syrup from all of its menu items.

BK debuted its campaign with a 45-second video of a regular-looking Whopper that over the course of 34 days becomes rotted.

"The beauty of real food is that it gets ugly. That's why we are rolling out a Whopper free from artificial preservatives," the chain said in a Tweet.

A number of other major restaurant chains have expedited efforts to clean up their menus in recent years. McDonald's announced in 2018 that all of its burgers would have no artificial preservatives, no artificial ingredients or added colors from artificial sources, and in 2016 it announced it would remove the preservatives from chicken nuggets and its soft-serve ice cream.

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Panera began using fresh eggs in 2018 for its breakfast sandwiches as an alternative to a partial egg made with soybean oil, whey, butter flavors and other additives that many of its competitors use to provide a cleaner option. Years earlier it removed artificial flavors, colors, and sweeteners from its restaurants. And Chipotle was one of the first major fast-food chains to stress animal welfare, using naturally raised chicken and beef and antibiotic-free meat.

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The push for more natural ingredients comes with ongoing consumer preferences for better-for-you foods made with whole foods and clean ingredients. The Global Health & Wellness Survey polled more than 30,000 people in 2015 and found 88 percent said they’re willing to pay more money for healthier foods.

The term "natural" on food labels and ingredients can be misleading because the Food and Drug Administration has no real definition, so food makers can use the word liberally. Indeed, many foods that claim to be natural have undergone minimal processing. The FDA defines "natural" as food that contains no artificial ingredients or added colors and has been "minimally processed."

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