Environment

Burger King makes its cows less gassy to cut greenhouse gas emissions

Burger King makes its cows les...
Burger King has started feeding its cows a lemongrass supplement to cut their methane emissions
Burger King has started feeding its cows a lemongrass supplement to cut their methane emissions
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Burger King has started feeding its cows a lemongrass supplement to cut their methane emissions
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Burger King has started feeding its cows a lemongrass supplement to cut their methane emissions

As tasty as cows are, their greenhouse gas emissions aren’t quite so palatable. In an attempt to clean up the agriculture industry a little, Burger King has now announced that it will start feeding its cows a new diet that can reportedly cut methane emissions by as much as a third.

According to the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization, livestock is responsible for as much as 14.5 percent of all anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions. Much of this is in the form of methane produced by microbes in the animals' gut, before being belched or farted out into the atmosphere.

Scientists have been experimenting with different food supplements that can make them a little less gassy, including fish oil, seaweed, tropical leaves and other new compounds. Now it looks like lemongrass can be added to the list.

Burger King, along with scientists from the Autonomous University of the State of Mexico and University of California Davis, found that adding dried lemongrass leaves to the animals’ daily feedstock reduced their methane emissions. Just 100 grams of the stuff per day was enough to reduce emissions by as much as 33 percent per day, the team says.

Rather than keep it a trade secret, the new formula is being released open source, with Burger King encouraging other food companies, farmers, meat producers, and the rest of the industry to run with it.

While reducing emissions by a third is a decent effort, it’s kind of a drop in the bucket considering the larger agricultural impacts on the environment. Deforestation is a major issue, and greenhouse gas emissions continue to be made along every step of the chain.

In response, Burger King says that this is just one step in its overall sustainability strategy. The company says it plans to eliminate deforestation from its supply chain by 2030, and is taking steps to reduce its carbon footprint in other areas too. It’s also recently started selling the Impossible Whopper, a plant-based version of the burger.

The Reduced Methane Emissions Beef will be available in five Burger King stores in the US from July during an initial trial run. Eventually, the company says it will be integrated into the usual supply chain to replace the existing beef.

More details can be seen in the video below.

Burger King | Cows Menu: Step by Step

Source: Restaurant Brands International

6 comments
FB36
IMHO a permanent/global solution is desperately needed!
How?
By humanity doing research on how to permanently replace/alter gut microbes to make them work w/o producing any methane gas!

For example, not long ago, there were news of some people whose gut produce alcohol!
Which is still not a good enough solution, obviously, but it shows gut microbes can be (permanently) replaced/altered, for sure!
foxpup
Showing dairy cows as an illustration when talking about beef production just screams of ignorance even though dairy cows fart too. You may as well show an image of the earth turning WESTWARD. It would have the same effect. That said, dietary supplements for cattle would have to be applied universally to be effective and beef is a competitive commodity market so every producer will have a personal incentive to cheat the system and save money in production just to stay in business. The logistics of enforcing such regulations would be untenable. There's a reason why unreasonable regulators try to spend most of their time in the cities and not out in the country where no-one else is there to observe events. The same equipment ranchers use to protect their herds from varmints can be used other ways too. I wouldn't want that job. It's just not practical and even if they could to it the benefits of success are extremely limited. It would be better if people spent their time and money doing almost anything else.
Worzel
This article brings to mind the millions of buffalo that used to roam the USA, before they were virtually exterminated, and the amount of fartgas that they must have produced. The world seemed to be perfectly habitable then, and was probably even better than now.
I remember seeing a sign on the Appalachian trail, announcing that the last buffalo in the state, had been shot from there, and thought how sad!
Aross
Isn't it true that man is responsible for this increase in "anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions" from cattle in the first place. As a kid I spent a lot of time in farm country and never saw cows eating anything but grass. Of course this meant that cattle and dairy farms had to have good pastureland and good land management practices. To allow for factory farms and increased profits the diet of cows was changed to corn and other grains. To allow the cows to eat and digest this new diet a new "super e coli" bacteria was introduced to help them digest the extra tough cellulose in the grains. Let's put the cows out to pasture once more for a cost effective solution to this problem
As Worzel mentioned, the buffalo did not have this problem.
Jeff7
One big thing - Burger King have made their cattle feed formula ‘open source’ and published it so anyone in the world can also raise beef or dairy cows this way. I won’t embed the link - Atlas editors will freak out but it is out here and I have read it. Open sauce versions will be confined to other websites.
Worzel
Perhaps a little lemongrass in the diets of the over 60' would be of benefit?;-)