Fast food: Is what you see, what you get?

January 15, 2014

Fast food ads look luscious and inviting. But if you've been disappointed with what you are actually served, you're not alone.

Consumer Reports has gotten so many complaints they it decided to run some side-by-side comparisons.

The Wendy's burger in the ad looks delicious, but the burger you get can look pretty different.

Consumer Reports sent a photo studio in a van to seven fast-food chains and several outlets of each.

They photographed a variety of menu items to compare what you see with what you are actually served.

Quiznos sandwich ads are a work of art.

"Everything looks beautiful," said Tod Marks, Consumer Reports. "But in reality, this is how the sub appeared when we bought it."

Although sometimes the food came close to the ads, most results were disappointing.

The worst offender in Consumer Reports' small sample was Subway sandwiches.

Its popular "Italian BMT" came to the van looking quite different.

But according to Subway, foods portrayed in its ads, "are made to the exact specifications as those found at our 26,000 restaurants."

If you want a healthy dinner in a snap, how about a microwaveable, steam-cooked meal?

The packaging suggests they are better for you, and that the flavors are "unlocked by steam." But is it a cooking revolution -- or a lot of hot air?

Consumer Reports put 10 meals to the test.

"Cooking with steam can be healthy, but we found that these meals weren't very different from frozen meals that have been around for years," said Linda Greene, Consumer Reports.

Consumer Reports found that a good low-fat option is the garlic chicken from Lean Cuisine.

Kashi's Sesame Chicken is also tasty.

But there's a caution with almost all the steamable meals.

"We found that the meals didn't cook very evenly. At times in the chicken dishes, the chicken was dry, and in the pasta dishes, sometimes the pasta was hard," said Greene.

The tastiest stuffed pasta? Marie Callender's Three Cheese Tortellini.

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