Judge OKs False-Advertising Suit Against Barilla Pasta

Class-action plaintiffs have beef with Barilla's 'Italy's No. 1 brand of pasta'; product is made in NY, Iowa
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 19, 2022 1:18 PM CDT
Barilla Talks About Italy on Its Box. Now, a Lawsuit
A box of Barilla pasta.   (PRNewsFoto/Barilla)

"Italy's No. 1 brand of pasta" isn't as Italian as it sounds. That's the crux of a class-action lawsuit against Barilla that a federal judge this week ruled could proceed, meaning the company will have to face the plaintiffs' allegations that it engaged in false or misleading advertising, reports Insider. In their original complaint, Matthew Sinatro and Jessica Prost blasted the company for just that, noting that Barilla packaging and other branding includes the previously mentioned phrase, bookended by the red, green, and white colors of the Italian flag.

The plaintiffs allege they opted to buy Barilla spaghetti and angel hair pasta because they thought they were getting a genuine Italian-made product, made with ingredients from Italy. The problem is, the company—which Courthouse News notes did originate in the 1800s in Parma, Italy—is now headquartered in Illinois, and its pasta products are manufactured in New York and Iowa, using ingredients sourced outside of Italy. The complaint alleges the company therefore swindled Sinatro and Prost into paying more money for what they thought was a premium product, all while "cutting costs and reaping the financial benefits of manufacturing the products in the United States of America."

On Monday, US Magistrate Judge Donna Ryu ruled their suit has enough merit to move forward, rebuffing Barilla's motion to dismiss the case. Ryu rejected Barilla's attempt to liken the suit against it to one that was thrown out against King's Hawaiian that tried to similarly claim purchasers were being deceived on the "Hawaiian-ness" of the brand's dinner rolls. Ryu noted that in the King's case, those labels "did not explicitly connect their origin to the present day. Nor did the labels exist against the backdrop of a long-standing marketing strategy expressly connected to a particular geographic location." (Read more Barilla stories.)

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