McDonald’s among burger joints sued for false advertising

On Balance with Leland Vittert

(NewsNation) —It’s long been a running joke that the meal you unwrap from any given fast food joint rarely looks as dressed up and put together as it does in advertisements.

But one upset customer has had enough and is asking “where’s the beef” in a class action lawsuit aimed at McDonald’s, Wendy’s and other fast food restaurants alleging they’re engaging in false advertising by showing a product in ads that is a far cry from what comes in the paper bag.

In a 35-page complaint filed in a federal court in New York, a lawsuit alleges McDonald’s and Wendy’s engage in false advertising by overstating the size of their hamburger meat and amount of toppings that come on their food in their ads.

The lawsuit specifically targets the Wendy’s Bourbon Bacon Cheeseburger, which it says appears much thicker, juicier and with more toppings in advertisements than the real life product.

McDonald’s and Wendy’s are also coming under fire in the lawsuits for not using fully cooked beef patties in their commercials, which appear larger than cooked patties, as beef can lose up to 25% of it’s size when cooked.

Pictured left is a McDonald’s advertisement on a food delivery app. On the right is what NewsNation’s “On Balance: with Leland Vittert” team received.

The lawsuit also cites a food stylist for Wendy’s, someone whose job it is to make the food appear commercial ready, who admitted she prefers to use undercooked beef patties for commercials because they appear more plump. She then would pin toppings to burgers so they would stay in place.

Prepping food for a commercial could take hours. Not the few minutes it takes for a frantic fast food worker to piece together a burger.

Anthony Russo, one of the attorneys representing the plaintiff in the lawsuit, said this is all about accountability for big companies.

“We’re in a day and age now where fact-checking is so easy to do, whereas years ago when you were told that you’re company was advertising and said ‘we have the best purest water, it comes from the best springs in the best place in the world’ back then we had to believe what they told us,” Russo said on NewsNation’s “On Balance: with Leland Vittert.”

This may sound like a quirky lawsuit, but Russo argues the issue is much more serious than it sounds. He said some people rely on this food to feed their families and in general people should have an accurate idea of what they are going to be putting in their bodies.

Other companies like Coca Cola have been sued in class action lawsuits that result in big payouts for lawyers, but little reward for consumers.

“It’s something that need to be controlled, it’s a bigger problem than just a simple burger or simple something not being the right size,” Russo said. “This is a much bigger problem that needs to be addressed.”

So what comes from this lawsuit if McDonald’s and Wendy’s lose? Well based on past class action lawsuits against companies like Coca Cola and Volkswagon, it would mean millions of dollars in legal fees for the lawyers and little payout for the actual consumer.

But Russo said despite the probably small payout for consumers, the real payoff is justice being served.

“They’re going to stop doing it the way they’re doing it, they’re going to stop falsely advertising and they’re going to make the corrections, the necessary corrections to the advertising that won’t mislead the consumers anymore I guarantee you that,” Russo said.

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