Fast-Food Chain Sued Over Not “Having the Meats”

Arby’s roast beef accused of being less plentiful, too well done compared to ads

For the past few years, Arby's Restaurant Group, Inc. touts its fast-food chain with the slogan, “We have the meats.” Now, a class-action lawsuit filed in the Eastern District of New York alleges otherwise. Plaintiff Joseph Alongis accuses Arby's of engaging in unfair and deceptive trade practices by using misleading photographs of sandwiches in its advertising. According to Alongis, Arby's customers receive roast beef and brisket sandwiches with significantly less meat than the amount depicted in advertisements.

Alongis claims that Arby's advertises sandwiches such as Classic Roast Beef, Double Roast Beef, Half Pound Roast Beef, Classic Beef 'N Cheddar, Double Beef 'N Cheddar, Half Pound Beef 'N Cheddar and Smokehouse Brisket with misleading images. These images, it is alleged, made it appear that the sandwiches contained approximately 100% more meat than actually provided. Arby's apparently achieved this by arranging the meat between the bread in a way that made the quantity of meat appear larger in advertisements than what was actually served to consumers. Additionally, Arby's is accused of misrepresenting the quality of the roast beef in its advertisements, showing rare roast beef when the actual product served was not rare roast beef.

The complaint contends that Arby's used uniform photographs for its advertisements across various platforms, including in-store menu boards, its website, and food delivery service websites. The alleged deceptive advertising practices caused consumers to believe they were receiving larger portions of food than they actually received.

Alongis argues that Arby's actions are particularly concerning given the current high inflation of food prices. The alleged misrepresentation of portion sizes led consumers, including lower-income individuals, to make purchases they might not have otherwise made. This has, in turn, allegedly diverted millions of dollars in sales away from competitors that more accurately advertise their menu items.

Alongis seeks monetary damages for the proposed class as well as injunctive relief requiring Arby's to correct its advertising practices.

Conclusion

The lawsuit against Arby's underscores the degree to which class-action plaintiffs are scrutinizing advertising for potential lawsuits. Should Arby’s choose to litigate rather than settle, it will be interesting to see the court’s views on whether flattering food photographs rise to the level of actionable false advertising.

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