Dunkin Donuts sued over claims that ‘steak’ sandwich doesn't contain steak

What exactly is “steak”? Is it a specific cut of beef? A product made from such cuts? Or is it more a measure of quality?

Well, whatever it is, a New York resident claims there's none of it inside the Angus Steak and Egg Sandwich at Dunkin’ Donuts.

Chefun Chen, of Queens, has filed a federal class-action lawsuit against Dunkin Brands, Inc. in the Eastern District of New York, alleging that the company’s Angus Steak and Egg Sandwich doesn’t contain any actual steak.


Instead, Chen argues that the “Steak” in Dunkin’s sandwich refers to “an inferior product of minced meat which contains ‘fillers and binders,’” and therefore is misleading to consumers, according to court documents.

In advertising their product as steak, Chen alleges that Dunkin’ implies the sandwich is “a superior product to its Classic sandwiches and wraps.” Chen also feels that by marketing the item in this fashion, the chain has been able to charge a premium for the sandwich.

In the lawsuit, Chen claims to have paid $3.99 for the sandwich at a Queens location on June 21, which is a full 50 cents more than the Egg and Cheese Bagel with bacon, ham or sausage. On June 24, Chen also purchased an Angus Egg Snack N’ Go Wrap for $1.99, or 60 cents more than the classic version with ham, bacon or sausage.


As evidence of Dunkin’ Donuts’ alleged misrepresentation, Chen’s lawsuit points to the company’s past ad campaigns, including a commercial called “Fellow-Steak-Lover Handshake,” in which a voiceover claims “it’s a big day for steak fans” and later encourages viewers to “celebrate with steak.” Another ad cited in the lawsuit was Dunkin’s “Angus Steak & Egg Sandwich TV Spot,” in which the phrase “steak and eggs” is repeated several times:

It’s worth noting that at the end of the latter commercial, a voiceover can be heard explaining that “Dunkin’s Steak and Egg Sandwich is oven-toasted and made with angus beef.” The item’s product page also describes the sandwich as containing “the irresistible flavors of Angus Steak, egg and American cheese, served on an oven-toasted bagel.”

"[The] products’ ingredients deviate from the label and product description," the suit states. Per Dunkin' Donuts' website, the ingredients of the sandwich's "Beef Steak Patty" contain angus beef; a marinade made with beef flavor; yeast extract; hydrolized vegetable proteins; and over a dozen other ingredients.

Chen’s lawsuit, however, may call into question the semantics of the term “steak.” As Food and Wine points out, a hamburger without its bun is also referred to as “Hamburg steak.” And another popular dish — Salisbury steak — is made from ground meat that has been formed into patties and topped with gravy or meat sauce.


But Chen likely isn’t swayed by such arguments, seeing as Chen included the USDA’s definition of “steak” in her suit.

“By the USDA definition, the ‘Steak’ in the Dunkin’ Donut product (Angus Steak and Egg Sandwich & Angus Steak and Egg Wrap) suggests that the 'product consists of a boneless slice or strip of poultry meat of the kind indicated.'”

Chen is seeking unspecified monetary, compensatory, treble and punitive damages, as well as “disgorgement of all moneys obtained by means of Defendant’s unlawful conduct,” among other restitution and attorney fees.

Dunkin’ Donuts initially debuted their Angus Steak and Egg sandwich in March 2012, Brand Eating reported.