- First and more common is to protect the company from ridiculous lawsuits from people who want to know where the milk is in their box of corn flakes because "it is on the box".
- Second are those people who might deserve to be sued, putting pictures of a vast cornucopia of meat and vegetables on the front of a microwave meal consisting of two slices of re-formed beef, freeze dried gravy and two very sad potatoes. In these cases it can serve as shorthand for "The product will look nothing like this."
Related to Covers Always Lie and Adjacent to This Complete Breakfast. It's also related to TV food commercials, especially fast food commercials: The product you see on screen looks nothing like what you'll get at the store/restaurant.
Justified with mixes and so on, as a picture of the actual powder is not exactly useful for the buyer.
- Containers of lard that show pictures of chicken. There ain't no chicken in that container. There isn't even any chicken fat in there, unless someone's violating truth in advertising laws. (Lard is 100% pig fat.)
- Numerous cereals depicting glasses of milk and orange juice and fruit slices, when the fruit is not present in the actual cereal.
- Steve, Don't Eat It! points out that the picture on a can of huitlacoche "downplayed the visuals by hiding it in a mild-mannered burrito". Huitlacoche is corn with a type of fungus growing in it, which Steve describes as resembling "smokers' lung."
- Those incredibly optimistic pictures of the burgers, kebabs, etc, that you see in fast-food joints, showing, for instance, a pitta bread overflowing with meat and the freshest possible produce, often shot under sodium yellow light to enhance the idealised product - a doner kebab (Americans: you apparently call this a "gyro") which bears only marginal similarity to the item the disinterested server eventually puts on the counter in front of you, with its grey doner meat, watery tomatoes and wilting saggy lettuce.