Barilla Pasta Lawsuit Over 'Italy's No. 1 Brand Of Pasta' Claim Rages On

Brands make plenty of claims in order for a customer to buy a product. As a consumer, you hope that most of those claims are true despite knowing that some of the sales points might be nothing more than a marketing gimmick. When a product is associated with phrases like "100% beef" or "caffeine-free," there's a certain level of trust from the customer in assuming that these statements are accurate. Some people take offense when they find out that a company is making claims that simply aren't true. That's exactly what happened to customers Matthew Sinatro and Jessica Prost. The pair are claiming they bought the pasta from the brand Barilla, believing it was an Italian product due to its slogan, "Italy's #1 Brand of Pasta." On discovering it was, in fact, produced in the United States, the two decided to take the company to court. 

According to the lawsuit filed last year by Sinatro and Prost, they allege that Barilla is in violation of the False Advertising Law, the Unfair Competition Law, and the Consumer's Legal Remedies Act. It may not be as simple as that, though — Barilla has several facilities around the world and did, indeed, start in Italy.

Is Barilla Italy's number one pasta brand?

The pasta company Barilla was founded by Pietro Barilla in 1877 in Parma, Italy. According to Bell Italia, it's the "biggest pasta producer in the world," taking up almost 45% of the Italian market. Bell Italia states that Barilla is the "most popular" pasta in the world, and while Statista says it's the one available in most Italian grocery stores, it doesn't necessarily mean it's what the natives are reaching for. The 145-year-old company now has facilities all over the world, including in the USA.

In 1997, The New York Times reported that Barilla was the number one pasta in Italy and was produced in Italy with Italian ingredients. While it was easily accessible in the US at that time, it wasn't until 1998 that the company opened a factory in Ames, IA. The brand's second US plant, located in Avon, NY, wasn't established until 2007. Unfortunately, the only thing linking Barilla's standard boxed pasta to Italy is in the name, branding, and, according to its website, the equipment that is used to produce the product. The only Italian-made products sold in America are "Barilla Tortellini and Barilla Oven Ready Lasagne."

While it might seem petty to file a lawsuit over false advertising regarding the pasta company's marketing claims, Axios suggests that "there is a difference in the nutrients of Italian pasta and consumers increasingly care about the transparency of their food sources." This week, a judge "denied in part Barilla's motion to dismiss and said the lawsuit can proceed," per GMA, so only time will tell what happens next.