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Lawsuits & Litigation

Class Action Calls Out Wendy’s, McDonald’s for Small Patty Sizes

— May 17, 2022

A class action is taking aim at Wendy’s and McDonald’s, accusing the popular fast-food outlets of exaggerating the sizes of their beef patties.

According to FOX Business, the 35-page lawsuit was filed less than two months after a similar complaint was brought against Burger King.

The complaint was submitted to U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York on Tuesday.

Attorneys Anthony J. Russo and James C. Kelly told FOX Business that the class action, filed on behalf of client Justin Chimienti and “similarly situated individuals,” contends that Wendy’s and McDonald’s advertisements are misleading.

Similar to the complaint against Burger King, the lawsuit cites digital food reviews and YouTube videos in which ordinary consumers lament the small size of their meals relative to marketing materials.

“Defendants advertise larger portions of food to steer consumers to their restaurants for their meals and away from competitors that more fairly advertise the size of their burgers and menu items, unfairly diverting millions of dollars in sales that would have gone to competitors,” the class action says.

Interestingly, FOX Business notes that the lawsuit also references a Money Talks News interview with a food stylist, who said she undercooks burger patties to give them a fuller appearance.

In the video, the stylist demonstrates the technique on a “simple burger purchased from a grocery store.”

The same stylist, says FOX Business, had previously worked with both Wendy’s and McDonald’s.

The class action claims that most meats “shrink 25% when cooked,” but that Wendy’s and McDonald’s promotional materials appear to depict products that are “approximately 15-20% larger” than what customers are served.

Image of hamburgers
Hamburgers; image courtesy of Free-Photos via Pixabay,

The complaint also suggests that Wendy’s “materially overstates” both the patty size and topping amounts in its Bourbon Bacon Cheeseburger.

The lawsuit includes a list of 18 other burgers that Wendy’s appears to have misrepresented.

However, the attorneys take particular issue with McDonald’s, saying that it “materially overstates the size of the beef patties for nearly every menu item in its current advertisements.” This includes classic and signature burgers such as the Big Mac, Quarter Pounder, and Double Cheeseburger.

McDonald’s Cheeseburger advertisements, for instance, show “the beef extending all the way to edge of the bun.”

But in real life, the McDonald’s Cheeseburger’s beef patty tends to be significantly smaller.

“There is no good reason why Wendy’s and McDonald’s should be allowed to use trickery in their advertising,” Kelly told FOX Business in an email. “We hope that through these class actions, these iconic companies will recognize the unfairness of their advertising and make positive changes.”

The lawsuit also asserts that “material misrepresentations” are especially concerning amidst high inflation and rising prices.

“Defendants’ actions are especially concerning now that inflation, food, and meat prices are very high and many consumers, especially lower income consumers, are struggling financially,” the complaint states.

Reuters notes that the lawsuit seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages for alleged breaches of contract as well as violations of consumer protection laws at the federal and state level.


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