Edoardo Fornaciari / Getty Images for Barilla
What would it be like to live in a world where everything that was printed in an ad or said in a commercial was true, without having to read the exact texts?
This seems to be the world that Matthew Sinatro and Jessica Prost are striving to build – at least when it comes to spaghetti.
The two are behind a class-action lawsuit against pasta maker Barilla, which they say deliberately deceives shoppers by using the “first Italian brand of pasta” logo on its packaging.
Despite the green, white, and red Italian flags displayed on blue boxes of angel hair, fusilli pasta, and pasta, the complaint filed in Northern California indicates that the majority of the company’s products sold in the United States are produced in Iowa and New York and are not made with ingredients sourced from Italy.
Do people pay more for the idea of Italian-made products? Prosecutors say truly
Sinatro and Prost argue in their complaint that they were deceived by the company’s alleged “false advertising” and deceptive marketing practices and that they would not have spent a total of $6 on Barilla products had they known that the pastas they were taking home were made in the United States. Instead, they would opt for cheaper alternatives.
“[C]Consumers willingly pay more for products that look and/or feel Italian, and Barilla has benefited from the implicit association with Italy.[i]In an effort to increase profits and gain an unfair competitive advantage.”
Barilla did not respond to NPR’s requests for comment, but the company is addressing the issue on its website.
Only two of the pasta sold in the US are in Barilla, Italy
“Barilla pasta sold in the United States is made in our factories in Ames, IA and Avon, New York, with a few exceptions. Barilla Tortellini and Barilla Oven Ready Lasagne are made in Italy,” the site states.
The site also notes that the recipes used in the United States are the same as those used in Parma, Italy, and that the pasta is made using the same types of machinery. The company’s 2021 financial report notes that the United States “remains the most important market in the United States.” [Americas] region.”
Court documents show that Barilla filed a motion to dismiss the case, arguing that Sinatro and Prost could not prove they had suffered financial harm. Sinatro, who lives in San Francisco, bought one box of Angel Hair Spaghetti for about $2, while Prost bought two boxes of spaghetti for about $2 each at a Los Angeles grocery store, according to the complaint.
The company filed a case in August, but the judge rejected the request last week.
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