Viewpoint: ‘It’s. Not. The. Cow. Farts.’ Burger King pulls ‘Cows Menu’ climate change ad

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Credit: What causes global warming

You’ve probably seen Burger King’s latest marketing video featuring Wal-Mart yodeler Mason Ramsey singing about methane emissions from cow farts and burps. The ad promotes Burger King’s “Cows Menu” consisting of beef from cows fed lemon-grass leaves, which some research suggests decreases methane emissions …. [T]he goal of promoting environmental sustainability in the beef sector is commendable. Yet, the video received significant backlash from farmers and members of the agriculture industry.

Burger King cites research from the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México which indicates that feeding cows 100g of lemon-grass leaves per day will reduce methane emissions by 33% over the period the diet is fed. However, this research has not yet been peer-reviewed nor published.

As tweeted by Dr. Frank Mitloehner from UC Davis: “ITS. NOT. THE. COW. FARTS.” In reality, only 5-10% of methane emissions come from cow manure and flatulence. The remaining 90-95% are released from cows’ mouths. The methane released through cow burps is a by-product of enteric fermentation, a digestive process in which sugars are converted into simpler molecules.

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Members of BK’s team also contacted Dr. Frank Mitloehner, UC Davis, to learn why he was upset with the video. Mitloehner said he educated the team on the facts about methane emissions from beef production, leading to the removal of some content, including the scene featuring the foolish old farmer, and pulling the ad from all TV stations.

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