Gross Things You Should Know About Burger King

No matter how much you love Burger King's chicken fries and extra large hamburgers, you can't help but cringe at some of the disgusting things it's done over the years. Take, for instance, the issue of horses. In 2013, customers got pretty queasy at the idea of having accidently consumed horse meat after the fast food chain's production plant in Ireland was found to have a smattering of horse DNA in its meat samples (via The Guardian). The thought of noshing on a steed's meat without being told that it was formerly a hoofed mammal other than a cow naturally grossed out some people (via The Guardian). 

It wasn't just that specific scandal that's marred Burger King's reputation. Customers have found unthinkable add-ons like spit and blue pills in their BK orders in the past. Then, there was ice cream that looked like the poop emoji, as well a video of a greasy kitchen counter that made the rounds on TikTok

Sometimes, the stories get a little overblown, such as when a Florida cop suspected that his sandwich was sprinkled with dirt when it was, in fact, just seasoning (via News-Press). This is a hint that not everyone holds the chain in the highest regards — in fact, it was voted the least favorite fast food chain on Twitter in 2021. What did the chain do to put its customers off? Here are some possible contenders for gross things you should know about Burger King.

A Mother's Day campaign left some feeling queasy

Burger King's intention was probably a noble one when it decided to interview expecting mothers and really find out if pregnancy-related cravings were legit. A majority of those surveyed (about 58%) said it was as true as the baby bump. A further 76% even said that they were absolutely powerless when it came to resisting these cravings (via Adweek). 

Burger King dug in further to understand what kind of food they craved. The responses included a range of taste combos that practically no chef would ever dare to experiment with, like combinations of olives and vanilla ice cream, cake and beef, and Bratwurst and chocolate spread, to mention a few (via DH News). The chain's Berlin location introduced a set of nine (thankfully) limited-edition whoppers with these gag-worthy combos in the period of time leading up to Mother's Day 2022.

Seeing the atrocity between the two buns, the Twitterati didn't hesitate to show their repulsion, with one calling it a "nightmare", and another saying it made them "sick" (via DH News). Whether the whoppers helped with expecting mothers' cravings or not, seeing fish fingers and apple sauce packed cheek by jowl did cause some of us to lose our lunch.

A Burger King ad featured a rotting whopper

In 2020, Burger King came up with an ad showcasing a gross-looking Whopper covered with blue-green mold, and dared to call it, "The beauty of no artificial preservatives" (via CNN). Only, many saw no beauty in it. In fact, a quarter of the consumers who saw the ad were seriously turned off, as per advertising analytics company Ace Metrix. Ads are supposed to get people itching to buy the product, but this particular ad by Burger King had the viewers calling it "gross," "inappropriate," and "ridiculous" (via Marketing Dive). But not all the dough that the company spent on the ad went to waste. In fact, per Ace Metrix, it drove home the point that Burger King was trying to make — that it was getting rid of artificial preservatives in its food. 

A 2019 YouGov study showed that millennials and their parents preferred organic products. So, the ad was BK's way, gross though it may be, of showing that it was listening. Some who watched the eyesore even thought the ad was Burger King taking a dig at its rival McDonald's. That chain's burgers have shown to go as long as 10 years without developing any yucky mold, per the BBC. That led many consumers to question the use of preservatives and other additives in fast food. Still, whether or not was BK's real intention doesn't nullify the fact that the 45-second ad was a tough watch.

It hit a new low with a suggestive ad

In 2009, a model spoke out against Burger King Singapore for using her face on a sexually suggestive ad without her consent. If you are struggling to connect the dots between a burger chain and naughty advertising, let us explain: to promote a certain menu item called the Seven Incher Burger (which in itself could pass for a double entendre), the company thought it would be witty to give the sandwich a phallic twist. What's more, the ad would have a model gaze at it with an open mouth, using a stock photo image. While the image itself was enough to make anyone cringe, the risqué ad made it all the worse with even more suggestive text (via Fox News

Though the ad had some of us whisper a soft "eww", the model who was featured in it was livid. She called for a boycott of Burger King and posted a YouTube video lambasting the chain's advertising agency for what she deemed to be public humiliation. What did the chain have to say for itself? Just a weak defense that the ad was never intended to run in the US (via Adweek).

Burger King's Halloween whopper had gross food dye issues

No one, except perhaps your doctor, is ever really interested in knowing the hue of your bowel movements. So then why was the Twitterverse filled with people discussing the color of their dookie around Halloween 2015? Well, we're looking at you, Burger King. 

The chain's idea of a Halloween celebration involved launching a whopper that was made with black buns (via USA Today). There was nothing spooky about the burger in itself, but the real scares came the next day. Diners witnessed a rather unusual phenomena while attending their nature's call the next morning, a sight that could have been petrifying. Many took to social media to talk about what was typically considered TMI: their green-hued excrement, courtesy of that dye-filled bun. Some poetically called it "as green as the Irish countryside after a quenching rain" (via Twitter) or "like Kryptonite" (via Twitter). It was nevertheless gross in the extreme.

Though doctor and nutritionist Pamela Reilly clarified that a green poop wasn't a dire health issue and the chain confirmed that the dye amount was within the acceptable levels suggested by FDA (via USA Today), the damage was done. Associating every bite of a burger with poo is enough to make anyone heave.

Rodents ran amok at multiple Burger Kings

A video showing a mischief of rats running around inside a bag of hamburger buns in a Burger King kitchen in Wilmington, Delaware, was nothing short of a nightmare come true. After the video was posted by a Facebook user (along with a warning to stay away from that location), Delaware Health and Social Services officials showed up at the restaurant. They found that the situation was even worse than expected (via CBS News). Mouse droppings were seen next to the fryers, the ice machine, water heater, syrup soda boxes, and all over the hamburger and chicken sandwich rolls. Citing "gross unsanitary conditions", the officials shut down the place for a serious cleanup.

Unfortunately, that wasn't the only case of rats infesting Burger King kitchens. In 2019, a similar video showed rats at a Burger King in Harlingen, Texas. It was so bad that the chain filed a lawsuit against the location's franchisee, who operated as many as 37 units in South Texas. When the store had reopened, it offered free whoppers to customers (via Restaurant Dive). Erm, a kind gesture indeed, but can a free whopper help people unsee the image of those scampering rodents? We guess not.

Customers found syringes in food more than once

Seeing a used needle anywhere is gross, but imagine biting into one in a burger. While just the thought can have you shivering, the unfortunate truth is that it's really happened to some people. A couple of Burger King customers experienced the stomach-turning horror in 2001, when a mother of two from Bronx bit into her sausage and egg sandwich only to have a needle pierce her cheek. She sued the chain for $9 million. She was consumed with the fear that she had caught a serious disease like HIV, but was too scared to get tested. The incident reportedly also affected her relationship with her fiancé and kids (via New York Post). In yet another incident almost a decade later, a veteran bit into a BK triple stacker in Hawaii. A needle that was inside the meal hurt his tongue and small intestine, sending the man to the hospital, as per the Associated Press.  

A syringe was not the only sharp object that Burger King customers have had issues with. A BK employee wrote in a Reddit AMA that a "stapler fight" among the employees resulted in some stray staples settling on a customer's burger. Said customer returned to the restaurant with serious complaints, though it's not clear that any legal action was taken.

An employee was fired for taking a bath at work

A Burger King employee's idea of a 25th birthday celebration was to dunk himself in a utility sink filled with soapy water during his work shift. Said sink is where all the food equipment used at the chain is cleaned up (via NBC News). Not only is this gross, but it's also a serious violation of health code that could have contaminated equipment and given customers a case of food poisoning (via Consumerist). As per NBC News, the employee uploaded a 2008 video to his MySpace page that showed him naked; he also kept referring to himself as "Mr. Unstable." He sure must have been just that in order to carry out his ablutions in a restaurant kitchen during work hours. Obviously, the employee who was bathing, the employee who was recording the event, and the shift manager were all let go from the chain.

As per the company's statement, the sink was sanitized and the utensils that were used by the employee in the video were discarded (via Consumerist). The whole location was checked over by an inspector from the county's health department, too, according to NBC News. Yet all those who saw the video might need more help cleaning that memory out of their brains.

Burger King employees have been caught doing pretty gross things

If you think wilted lettuce is gross, what would you say about some leaves with a few shoe prints? One employee at the chain's Mayfield, Ohio location posted a picture of himself standing on two bins of lettuce — his shoes resting directly on the bed of green — with the comment: "This is the lettuce you eat at Burger King." The nauseating photo turned viral (via Today) and had some of us pondering if we should pick the lettuce off of our sandwiches next time. 

As it turns out, lettuce is not the only subject of questionable BK employee activity. In 2017, an employee at the Burger King in Canon City, Colorado was caught on camera not washing his hands after coughing. Instead, the employee simply wiped his hands on his clothes before handling part of a customer's order (via 11 News). 

Yet another employee was seen using a floor mop to clean the table top at a Burger King location in Jacksonville, Florida (via News4 Jax). The customer who recordded the employee was naturally sickened as she had reportedly eaten at that very table minutes before. Per the FDA, cloths for wiping the floor and table tops should be separate, said a spokesperson for the State Department of Business and Professional Regulation.

Think twice before ordering less-popular Burger King items

If some items are not your top choices at a Burger King, thank your taste buds for saving you from consuming what may be stale food. As alleged by a Redditor claiming to be a BK employee, the less popular the item, the more probability there stands of it not being fresh. These menu items includes chicken nuggets, fish items, and even the chicken fries (via Reddit). "Never never never buy the whopper junior, not enough people buy them so they just sit out and go bad," another Redditor who claims to be a BK worker said. They added that, since it takes a while to make a Whopper Jr from scratch, managers tell the staff to simply use the old patties. 

It's the same case with the fish-based menu items. "[We] had the same 2 or 3 fish filets in the warmer for entire days sometimes," said one Redditor. "I've seen Steakhouse patties sit in the warming trays for 6+ hours until being served," yet another Burger King employee added (via Reddit). 

One location allegedly covered up evidence of black mold

A certain Burger King location in Missouri was so unclean that it forced multiple employees to call it quits.Staff also resorted to picketing in front of the eatery to warn potential customers of the extremely unhygienic conditions inside the restaurant's kitchen (via Springfield News-Leader). Turns out there was black mold near the dish shelf, on the lids of freezers, around the main cooking station, and the grill. What's more, employees also had to deal with sewage water overflow, clogged kitchen drains, a ceiling that leaked, gut-churning grease buildup in some parts of the kitchen, and more.

But what's worse is that the management required them to work in these unsanitary conditions. Employees alleged that they were also made to continue to serve the blissfully ignorant customers, despite the health risk. According to one former worker, they were asked to simply cover up the mold before a health inspection. At one point, the employees banded together and walked out of the restaurant, even telling drive-thru customers about the black mold issue as they existed the premises.