Lawsuit accuses Wendy’s and McDonald’s of misleading burger size in ads

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Ever been disappointed by the way your fast-food order looks compared to the product image used in advertisements? A new class-action lawsuit is taking that disappointment to federal court.

The complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York, alleges that McDonald’s and Wendy’s are falsely advertising the size of their beef patties and the amount of toppings they include on their burgers.

Wendy’s advertises its burgers as large burgers compared to competitors and containing thick and juicy beef patties stuffed with toppings to make it appear that the burgers are substantially larger in size than the actual burger served to customers,” the lawsuit states.

The lawsuit uses Wendy’s Bourbon Bacon Cheeseburger as an example, alleging that the fast-food chain exaggerates how many toppings are added to the burger and “materially overstates the thickness of the beef patty contained therein.”

AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez

The lawsuit goes on to say that the “beef patties that Wendy’s uses for its advertisements are not fully cooked to make it appear that they are approximately 15-20% larger than the beef patties that are actually served to customers.”

In reality, the meat shrinks around 25% when cooked, and according to the lawsuit, a food stylist for Wendy’s admitted that she uses undercooked patties and overstates the amount of toppings in burger advertisements.

Recently, some food reviewers have been using their platforms to call out Wendy’s for the meager size of their food, and the plaintiffs cite quite a few of their social media posts as examples. YouTube reviewer Natalino Reviews is included as just one example in the lawsuit for their review of the Bourbon Bacon Cheeseburger, which they say does not look like the photo.

Other examples include Twitter posts from customers who are underwhelmed with their orders, like this tweet that shows a side-by-side comparison of what the Bourbon Burger is supposed to look like, according to the online menu, and how it actually looks.

Another Wendy’s customer shared a photo on Twitter of the small sandwich they received when they ordered a Junior Bacon Cheeseburger, writing, “What you see is the entire sandwich.”

The lawsuit alleges that McDonald’s uses the same deceptive advertising for nearly all menu items, including the Big Mac, Quarter Pounder and McDouble.

The Washington Post reports that the same law firms involved in this case also filed suit against Burger King with similar allegations in March.

Right now, the lawsuit has a single plaintiff — Justin Chimienti, of New York — who is asking for monetary damages for all Wendy’s and McDonald’s customers who were fooled into purchasing mediocre meals, and he is demanding that fast-food chains change or discontinue overstated advertising.

About the Author

Kaitlin Gates

Kaitlin is a freelance multimedia journalist with a background in newspaper and broadcasting. She has a degree in journalism and psychology, enjoys writing, editing, animals, music and movies/TV. When she's not writing, you can usually find her on her yoga mat, whipping up a new vegetarian dish or at a wine tasting with friends. You can email her at kaitlingateswrites@gmail.com or find her on Facebook at Facebook.com/KaitlinGatesWrites. Learn More.