A federal judge ruled that A lawsuit alleging that Barilla deceives customers into thinking its pasta is made in Italy can be filed. Proceed next month.
According to Jessica Prost of Los Angeles and Matthew Sinatro of San Francisco. Barilla is mislabeling some of its products. Because the Illinois-based company promotes them as “Italy’s #1 Pasta Brand.”
Even though most of the pasta is produced in Iowa and New York with locally sourced ingredients, the complaint explicitly accuses Barilla of false advertising, unjust enrichment, and other violations.
Barilla called Prost and Sinatra’s lawsuit “unfounded claims” in a statement to CBS MoneyWatch, noting that its box says “Made in the USA with the USA and imported ingredients.”
“We’re very proud of the brand’s Italian heritage, the company’s Italian know-how, and the quality of our pasta in the United States and worldwide,” said Barilla.
The company requested that the case be dismissed in August. But a judge denied the request on Monday.
Barilla was founded in 1877 in Italy.
According to the company’s website, thepasta division is now based in Northbrook, Illinois, while Barilla continues to manufacture tortellini and oven-ready lasagna in Italy.
According to court documents, Barilla wanted the case dismissed partly because Prost and Sinatro could not demonstrate financial harm due to purchasing its pasta. Prost and Sinatro paid $2 for boxes of Barilla at a local grocery store last year, according to the lawsuit.
Plaintiffs’ attorney Katherine Bruce stated Thursday that Barilla misrepresented where its products are sourced and that “consumers thus paid an unwarranted premium” for pasta.
“Clear and conspicuous product origin disclaimers exist to avoid consumer confusion and protect brands making truly authentic goods,” she said in a statement to CBS MoneyWatch.
The Texas Pete case
The Barilla case is just one of many recent lawsuits in which customers have questioned the veracity of marketing claims about where food products are made.
A man from Los Angeles is suing the maker of Texas Pete, alleging that the hot sauce is made outside Texas with non-Texan ingredients. The plaintiff claimed in his September lawsuit against TW Garner Food, which manufactures Texas Pete in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, that he would never have purchased the product if he had known it wasn’t from Texas.
In another case, in 2020, a New York man sued King’s Hawaiian because the company’s sweet rolls were not made in Hawaii. Last year, the lawsuit was dismissed.
In 2019, customers sued Nestlé Waters North America. They accusing the company of no longer sourcing Poland Spring water from the original spring in Maine. According to the lawsuit, Poland Spring dried up decades ago. Bloomberg Law reported that the case is still ongoing.