McDonald's and Wendy's have defeated a lawsuit accusing them of deceiving hungry diners by exaggerating the size of their burgers.
In a decision on Saturday, U.S. District Judge Hector Gonzalez in Brooklyn found no proof that the fast-food chains delivered smaller burgers than advertised, or that the plaintiff Justin Chimienti had even seen ads for the McDonald's Big Mac and Wendy's Bourbon Bacon Cheeseburger he bought.
Chimienti, a resident of Long Island's Suffolk County, said McDonald's and Wendy's ads depicted undercooked beef patties because meat shrinks 25% when cooked.
The complaint quoted a food stylist who said she had worked for McDonald's and Wendy's, and preferred undercooked patties because fully-cooked burgers looked "less appetizing." Chimienti said Wendy's also inflated the amount of toppings it uses.
In a 19-page decision, Gonzalez said the chains' efforts to made their burgers look appetizing was "no different than other companies' use of visually appealing images to foster positive associations with their products."
He said McDonald's and Wendy's were not legally obligated to sell burgers by advertising them, and that their websites provided "prominent, objective information" about the burgers' weight and caloric content.
Gonzalez also said it is not misleading to depict fewer toppings than the plaintiff's "personally preferred amount."
Lawyers for Chimienti did not immediately respond on Monday to requests for comment. McDonald's, Wendy's and their lawyers did not immediately respond to similar requests.
On Aug. 29, a federal judge in Miami said Burger King, a unit of Restaurant Brands International, must defend against a similar lawsuit over how it depicts Whopper sandwiches on in-store menu boards. He dismissed claims based on ads.
Taco Bell, a unit of Yum Brands, is defending against a lawsuit in the Brooklyn court claiming it sold Crunchwraps and Mexican pizzas that contained half as much filling as advertised.
The case is Chimienti v Wendy's International LLC et al, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of New York, No. 22-02880.
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