Burger King Is Being Sued for Making Sandwiches Look Too Big in 'False' Ads

Size certainly does matter when it comes to food, according to a recently filed lawsuit.

Plaintiffs Walter Coleman, Marco DiLeonardo, Matthew Fox and Madelyn Salzman filed a class-action lawsuit on March 28 against Burger King Corporation in the Southern District Court of Florida, alleging that Burger King uses "false and misleading advertising concerning the size and/or the amount of ingredients contained" in a slew of different menu items.

Burger King
Burger King was recently sued by four individuals who claim that menu items are misrepresented to consumers. Here, an Impossible Whopper sits on a table at a Burger King restaurant in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. Drew Angerer/Getty Images

The plaintiffs seek "to end Burger King's unfair and materially misleading advertising" and request monetary damages "fully compensating all individuals who were deceived" by Burger King by purchasing "overstated menu items." They also request injunctive relief requiring the company to correct its advertising, according to the suit.

The complaint obtained by Newsweek stated that the company advertises its burgers as large burgers compared to competitors, saying that said burger advertisements contain "oversized meat patties and ingredients that overflow over the bun to make it appear that the burgers are approximately 35 percent larger in size, and contain more than double the meat, than the actual burger."

The plaintiffs hone in on the Whopper, the classic Burger King staple which made the fast-food restaurant famous. The complaint included a side-by-side photo comparison of an advertised Whopper busting at the seams with beef and ingredients, while a "real" Whopper allegedly pales in comparison.

Burger King "began to materially overstate the size of its burgers in its advertisements" starting in September 2017, the lawsuit claims, alleging that Whoppers advertised since that date not only increased in size by approximately 35 percent but that the beef content also increased "by more than 100 percent."

"Although the size of the Whopper increased materially in Burger King's advertisements, the recipe or the amount of beef or ingredients contained in Burger King's Whopper has never changed," the lawsuit claims.

But it's not just the Whopper that has allegedly been deceptive to the plaintiffs. The suit alleges that Burger King "overstates the size of nearly every menu item in its current advertisements," including the Impossible Whopper, Big King, Single Quarter Pound King, Bacon King, Bacon Double Cheeseburger, Hamburger, Whopper Melt, Fully Loaded Croisann'Wich and Egg, & Cheese Croissan'Wich, etc.

The suit references fast-food critics, YouTube food reviewers, Twitter complaints and various news media stories to back up its claims.

John Jurasek, an American YouTube personality and radio host, is one food critic mentioned by name. The suit mentions one of Jurasek's YouTube reviews of the Big King Burger.

"The picture [in Burger King's advertisements] makes you think that this thing is like, you know, two pounds or something, that it's going to be this massive, massive, sandwich...[but]...it's not that big," Jurasek said in his review, according to the suit. "For six bucks, you know, the size is a little disappointing."

This isn't the first legal action against the company regarding its advertising.

As noted in the suit, about 12 years ago Burger King was ordered by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA)—the United Kingdom's regulator of advertising—to stop advertising overstated burgers.

A BBC story from July 2010 referenced the ASA's determination after the purchase of three burgers. The ASA reportedly found the burgers' thickness and overall height was "considerably less" than in the ad.

"We also examined the size of the burgers in the hands of an average-sized man and considered that they did not fill the hands to the same extent as the burger featured in the advert," the ASA said according to the report. "We concluded that the visuals in the advert were likely to mislead viewers as to the size and composition of the product."

Anthony Russo, co-counsel on behalf of the plaintiffs, told Newsweek that the lawsuit's intent is transparency.

"It's pretty clear in this day and age when truth and honesty is really the most important thing in what you're doing because anything is so verifiable," Russo said. "This is exactly the opposite of what they're doing. This is old-school stuff of telling you what you want to hear. [I]t's advertised as so inviting it's misleading."

He said he has not yet been in contact with anyone from Burger King's legal department.

Burger King is headquartered in Miami, Florida. A spokesperson for the company told Newsweek that "Burger King does not comment on pending or potential litigation."

Coleman is a Florida resident. DiLeonardo and Fox are full-time New York residents while Salzman splits her time between New York and Florida.