Burger King combats climate change, adds lemongrass to livestock diet

Scientists have been working on ways to reduce methane emissions, by either breeding animals that burp less, adjusting their diets so they produce less methane and planting trees in pastures.

Burger King logo is seen in a restaurant in Warsaw (photo credit: REUTERS)
Burger King logo is seen in a restaurant in Warsaw
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Burger King is doing its part to reduce its carbon footprint on the Earth, the company announced on Tuesday.
To do so, they will be revamping the low-carb diet it uses to feed its cows, adding 100 grams of lemongrass daily into their diets which in turn will theoretically reduce methane emissions produced by the livestock.
Livestock are responsible for about 14.5 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, according to the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). According to calculations by some experts, this puts the livestock sector on par with transport. The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says transport is responsible for 14 percent of emissions.
Ruminants such as cattle, buffalo, sheep and goats produce nitrous oxide, carbon dioxide and methane, which is the most emitted gas and is released through belching or passing gas. Although less prevalent than carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas, methane is more potent because it traps 28 times more heat, according to a 2016 study by the Global Carbon Project, which groups climate researchers.
Scientists have been working on ways to reduce those emissions, by either breeding animals that burp less, adjusting their diets so they produce less methane or planting trees in pastures.
Burger King itself, teamed up with researchers from the Autonomous University at the State of Mexico and the University of California, Davis to come up with the idea to add lemongrass to its cows' diets in order to reduce carbon emissions amid a bid combat climate change.
And according to their findings, lemongrass reduces methane emissions by 33% "during the last three of four months of the cow's life," according to CNBC who cited preliminary test reports.
These concerted efforts are a part of Burger King's push to create healthier, organic and smarter options for their burger-buying consumers.
Recently, Burger King introduced the Impossible Whopper to their menu, a plant-based burger made entirely without beef.
In February, Burger King released a Whopper free from artificial preservatives. The company added that they also removed artificial food-coloring from their Whopper products - which many restaurant chains use to make the food look more enticing. They hope to remove all artificial ingredients from their foods by year's end.
"We believe that delicious, affordable, and convenient meals can also be sustainable," said global chief marketing officer at Restaurant Brands International Fernando Machado in a press statement. "If the whole industry, from farmers, meat suppliers, and other brands join us, we can increase scale and collectively help reduce methane emissions that affect climate change."
The lemongrass-fed beef is to be used in Whoppers, and will initially be made available in locations spread across New York, Miami, Austin, Los Angeles and Portland.

Reuters contributed to this report.