Where's the beef? McDonald's, Wendy's hit with 'deceptive ads' lawsuit

A new federal lawsuit from a McDonald’s (MCD) and Wendy’s (WEN) customer claims the two fast food chains are falsely advertising the size of their beef patties and sandwich toppings.

In a proposed class action filed in New York, a customer named Justin Chimienti says the two fast food giants should compensate him and others who bought certain sandwiches based on their print and video ads. The lawsuit comes after Burger King got hit with similar claims last month by the same attorney.

“Wendy’s materially overstates the amount of toppings and the size of the beef patties for nearly every menu item in its current advertisements,” the lawsuit states.

Wendy's misleads consumers through ads featuring undercooked patties that make the meat on 16 different sandwiches appear 15%-20% larger than those sold in their stores, the suit contends.

Wendy's bourbon bacon cheeseburger, advertised versus real life. Image: Complaint
Wendy's bourbon bacon cheeseburger, advertised versus real life. Image: Complaint

“McDonald’s also materially overstates the size of its beef patties using the same deceptive practice as Wendy’s,” Chimeienti goes on to claim.


Nearly every item on its menu, including its cheeseburgers and hamburgers, the Big Mac, Quarter Pounder, and McDouble, are falsely advertised, he says.

McDonald's cheeseburger advertised versus real life. Image: Complaint
McDonald's cheeseburger advertised versus real life. Image: Complaint

To bolster the allegations, the lawsuit mentions food stylist, Ellie Stern, whose clients include McDonald’s and Wendy’s. Stern said in an interview with MoneyTalksNews that she uses the undercooked method to prepare sandwiches for photo shoots.

“In general, meat shrinks 25% when cooked, depending upon the amount of fat and liquid contained in the meat,” the plaintiff claims of McDonald’s patties. “McDonald’s only sears the outside of the patty it uses for its advertisements…to deceive customers.”

The four-court complaint goes after both chains for breach of contract, negligent misrepresentation, unjust enrichment, and violation of New York’s consumer protection law.

The plaintiffs are asking for monetary damages for all Wendy’s and McDonald’s customers allegedly deceived by the companies’ ads, as well as an injunction requiring the chains to change or discontinue purportedly overstated advertising. The plaintiffs are also asking the court to disgorge the companies of revenues earned through the allegedly offending ads.

A spokesperson for McDonald’s did not immediately respond to Yahoo Finance's request for comment on the lawsuit. Wendy’s also did not immediately return a request for comment.

Anthony Russo, a lawyer who filed the similar proposed class action lawsuit filed against Burger King last month, Russo told Yahoo Finance that he is awaiting McDonald's and Wendy's responses to the complaint.

Alexis Keenan is a legal reporter for Yahoo Finance. Follow Alexis on Twitter @alexiskweed.

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