Two customers, Matthew Sinatro and Jessica Prost, filed a lawsuit against the company after purchasing several boxes of Barilla pasta under the impression it was made in Italy. However, despite the company's slogan as "Italy's No. 1 brand of pasta," its products are produced in Iowa and New York.
With its slogan and the Italian flag on its packaging, the customers accused the brand of misleading consumers with its marketing, stating Barilla is "further perpetuating the notion that the products are authentic pastas from Italy," according to the lawsuit.
However, Barilla discloses on its website that products distributed in the U.S come from its local plants and not overseas, claiming to use the original machinery from Parma, Italy.
Furthermore, Barilla said its trademark is used to "invoke the company's Italian roots through generalized representations of the brand as a whole," and isn't meant for deception, according to the lawsuit.
Despite the brand's transparency online, a judge denied Barilla's motion to dismiss the lawsuit stating the customers suffered "economic injury" after purchasing the pasta under the false notion it was made in Italy. In addition to seeking monetary compensation, Sinatro and Prost are asking the court to stop the brand from using Italian likenesses in its branding.
"The most recent decision in the ongoing legal matter simply reflects the Court's early conclusion that the lawsuit can proceed," the brand said in response to the ruling in an official statement to Entrepreneur.
he statement continued: "Barilla remains committed to vigorously defend against these unfounded claims, as the wording on the box clearly states: 'Made in the U.S.A. with U.S.A. 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 U.S. and globally."
This isn't the first time customers have sued a brand for misrepresenting its products manufacturing location. A California-based man is suing Texas Pete Hot Sauce, which is made in North Carolina, for false advertising, claiming it is taking profits away from brands that are actually authentic to the region.
Story originally published by Entrepreneur