This isn’t what I ordered: Lawsuits accuse Burger King, others of ads that misrepresent their foods

Category: Business


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. mouthwatering / ˈmaʊθˌwɔ tər ɪŋ / (adj.) – seeming to have a very delicious taste because of its smell and attractive appearance

    The smell of the freshly baked bread was mouthwatering.

  2. deception / dɪˈsɛp ʃən / (n.) – the act of making someone believe something that is not true

    Many believed the businessman’s deception. He got a lot of people to invest in his fake business.

  3. overstate / ˌoʊ vərˈsteɪt / (v.) – to say that something is better or greater than it really is

    The landlord overstated the size of the house. I was disappointed that it was not as big as he described.

  4. soggy / ˈsɒg i / (adj.) – very wet because of absorbing liquid, often to the point of being too soft and unpleasant

    The noodles became soggy when I left them boiling for too long.

  5. sue / su / (v.) – to take legal action against someone and make him/her pay for the damages he/she caused

    The actor is suing the newspaper company for writing false news about him.


Read the text below.

Food ads have long made their subjects look bigger, juicier, and crispier than they are in real life. But some consumers say those mouthwatering ads can cross the line into deception, and that’s leading to a growing number of lawsuits.

Burger King is the latest company in the crosshairs. In August, a federal judge in Florida refused to dismiss a class action lawsuit that claims Burger King’s ads overstate the amount of meat in its Whopper burger and other sandwiches.

But Burger King is far from the only one. Perkins Coie, a law firm that tracks class action suits, said 214 were filed against food and beverage companies in 2022 and 101 were filed in the first six months of this year. That’s a huge increase from 2010 when just 45 were filed.

Pooja Nair, who represents food and beverage companies as a partner with the Beverly Hills, California-based law firm Ervin Cohen and Jessup, said waves of class action lawsuits started hitting federal courts a few years ago.

Some of the first were false advertising claims against snack chip makers for not completely filling the bags; most of those were dismissed, she said. Since 2019, hundreds of lawsuits have been filed asserting that consumers are being misled by “vanilla-flavored” products that don’t contain pure vanilla or vanilla beans.

Others say growing consumer awareness is behind the trend. Social media can instantly make a photo of a soggy sandwich go viral, informing other potential plaintiffs, said Jordan Hudgens, the chief technology officer for Dashtrack, an Arizona-based company that develops restaurant websites.

In the Burger King case, plaintiffs in multiple states sued in March 2022, claiming that advertisements and photos on store menu boards show burgers that are about 35% larger—with double the meat—than the burgers they purchased. The plaintiffs said they wouldn’t have bought the sandwiches if they had known the actual size.

Ultimately, the Burger King case and others could cause companies to be more careful with their ads, said Jeff Galak, an associate professor of marketing at Carnegie Mellon University’s Tepper School of Business. But that could come at a cost; more realistic photos might lead to lower sales.

This article was provided by The Associated Press.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

  • In your opinion, is it reasonable for consumers to file a class action lawsuit against Burger King? Why or why not? Why do you think they did so (ex. to make money, to seek commercial fairness)? Discuss.
  • What would you do if you noticed that what you ordered looked different from the ads and menu boards (ex. file a complaint, demand a refund)? Why? Discuss.

Discussion B

  • As a consumer, how important is it to have accurate representations of products in advertisements? What could be the impact of misleading ads on consumer trust? Discuss.
  • Think of a food company or restaurant that has really good advertising in your opinion. What makes its advertising effective? Discuss.