The idea that a food product won’t look as advertised has become normalized to the point that it’s basically an expectation. Boxes of food will display the phrase enlarged to show texture, or commercials showing food in optimum conditions to try and make it look as pleasing as possible. When it comes to fast food though, where does the line get drawn between acceptable and legal? A lawsuit filed on Tuesday aims to answer that.
On May 17th, Justin Chimienti filed a class-action lawsuit through the Brooklyn federal court. The suit alleges that fast food giants McDonald’s and Wendy’s are utilizing deceptive advertising to make their burgers “look bigger than they actually are.” Specifically, Chimienti claims commercials use “undercooked patties” which make the meals look up to 20% bigger than the actual product. If you’ve ever cooked a burger, then you’re probably aware of how small the patty becomes during the cooking process.
No comment has been made by either business about the lawsuit, which to be fair, is pretty normal. There isn’t even a specified amount of damages that the plaintiff is seeking. There is certainly truth to advertising trying to present things in the best light possible, but does it rise to the level of deception as defined by law?
If it’s any indication of precedent, one need not look any further than the case against Subway and their foot long sandwiches. In 2017 a class-action lawsuit was thrown out against the sandwich company. It was alleged that the term “foot long” was false, since some of the sandwiches only measure 11 inches.
That case was tossed out in part because the baking of bread causes the dough to constrict, resulting in a potentially smaller sandwich. This shrinkage can vary from sandwich to sandwich, and Subway argued, this did not make the “foot long” statement a deception. Also, the tuna incident.
It seems like that might be the most analogous situation to what we have here, and it doesn’t even contain official measurements. But does McDonald’s and Wendy’s alleged use of undercooked patties change that? Guess that will be for a judge to decide should the case continue forward.
You may now insert your requisite 38-year old “Where’s the Beef?” joke.