Pasta Al Dente or Al Des Moines? Barilla Sued Over Claim as “Italy’s No. 1 Brand of Pasta.”

Barilla pasta is facing an interesting class action out of California after Matthew Sinatro and Jessica Prost sued over the claim on every box as  “Italy’s No. 1 brand of pasta.” The problem is that the pasta is actually made in Iowa and New York. 

The plaintiffs argue that “consumers willingly pay more for Italian sounding and/or looking products,” and such products are known to use Italian durum wheat considered ideal for pasta. However, they charge that the company is making the pasta domestically and using non-Italian durum wheat. With the use of the Italian flag and marketing imagery, they allege that the company is clearly leading consumers to believe the false suggestion that this is a product made in Italy.

Barilla filed a motion to dismiss and stressed that consumers are expressly told on its website that the products are produced in Iowa and New York as well as Canada.

The website stresses “the machines used in our Ames and Avon plants are the same as used in our plant in Parma, Italy. The recipe and the wheat blend are the same as that used in Parma, Italy. Barilla purchases its wheat from around the world, ending up with the best wheat available.”

That was not enough for U.S. Magistrate Judge Donna M. Ryu  who handed down a mixed ruling. Ryu held that Sinatro and Prost have suffered injury in purchasing boxes of Barilla pasta of angel hair and spaghetti respectively for $2.00 per box in California. She granted and denied parts of the motion to dismiss.

In a critical ruling, Ryu held:

Barilla asks the court to decide as a matter of law that the Challenged Representation can mean only one thing. However, Plaintiffs have alleged that the Challenged Representation appears with the colors of the Italian flag, and that this imagery further reinforces the notion that the products “are authentic pastas from Italy.” See FAC ¶ 2. The Challenged Representation is also part of the products’ packaging in the context of an alleged marketing campaign that emphasizes the company’s Italian identity, including a website “that markets the Barilla® brand and company as undeniably Italian, dedicated to the manufacturing, marketing, and selling of Italian-made pastas.” See id. at ¶¶ 16, 18-20. Viewed in this context, the FAC plausibly alleges that the Challenged Representation supports a reasonable inference that the products were made in Italy from Italian ingredients, and “a probability that a significant portion of the general consuming public or of targeted consumers, acting reasonably in the circumstances, could be misled” by the Challenged Representation.

While denying injunctive relief and rejecting the applicability of some precedent to support the complaint, the court will allow the plaintiffs to file an amended complaint and the case can now go forward with claims under California’s unfair competition and business practices laws, false advertising, breach of warranty, and unjust enrichment.

Here is the ruling: Order on Motion to Dismiss


65 thoughts on “Pasta Al Dente or Al Des Moines? Barilla Sued Over Claim as “Italy’s No. 1 Brand of Pasta.””

  1. False advertising?
    Barilla is an international brand.
    Do they make pasta in Italy? (yes)
    Is it Italy’s number one brand? (maybe… if you do the research and find out the amount of pasta made / sold in Italy, or if you consider world wide production… more than likely because they are all over the world…)

    So not necessarily false lie. Nor misleading advertising if the company is in fact still HQ’d in Italy.

    Does the box also say where the pasta they were buying was made? (If so, e.g. NY or IA… then its ok)

    Now for the fun part.
    Go to the store. Take a look at the brands of pasta on the shelves. Compare the prices. Barilla is prices roughly the same as other pastas.
    Note: Your grocery store also has an aisle for ethnic products imported from other countries or are specific to a type of food. Usually the pasta here would be a product made in Italy and sold in the US. (Very few pastas if any)

    Personally I like Barilla. I never thought of it being made in Italy.
    And I always buy it when it goes on sale. (hint: what’s the shelf life of pasta? )

    Frivolous lawsuit.


  2. Here is the scummy law firm that filed that suit, along with one against Texas Pete Hot Sauce, for not being from Texas. (
    Wait til they discover that hot dogs don’t come from dogs.

    1. @Sam,
      You wrote:

      Sam says:
      October 22, 2022 at 8:30 AM

      Here is the scummy law firm that filed that suit, along with one against Texas Pete Hot Sauce, for not being from Texas. (
      Wait til they discover that hot dogs don’t come from dogs.


      You know there are some villages in China…. (just saying)


  3. Refund their 2 bucks, tell em to buy a different brand and to stop being dumb enough to believe every logo means everything they think it means.

  4. So I checked my box. So it says made in America. So it says Italy’s #1 brand. It does NOT say #1 brand of Italian pasta or of American pasta or of any other country’s pasta. It does not say current #1 or past #1 or anything. For all we know, Blue Box could be Italy’s current favorite pasta. Oh, where is Judge Wapner when we need him?!

  5. Where products are made, assembled, grown etc. can be in multiple countries. I think a more important question one might want to know is where his medication actually came from. That is tough.

  6. My boxes of Barilla all say, “Made in the USA, with USA and imported ingredients.” So, what is the problem?

  7. All you had to say was, ‘California.’. If ever a more useless excuse for a state existed in this century, please show me. That any of this could even be a thought in someone’s mind at present is all you need to know. They do not live in the same reality as the rest of us. I do not, in my personal time, have the space or time to be upset about pasta that you willingly buy and cook yourself. This is a special kind of trust fund baby, and I could give a ****. Hope the ruling reflects similar, though in CA, I do not have high hopes. I would LOVE it if they succeeded in seceding, though I know they won’t. Most of the rest of us would forget they ever existed in the first place. Their egos would tell you otherwise; meanwhile the rest of us would live peacefully. Pfft.

  8. Jonathan: I love California’s unfair competition and business practices laws. Falsely claiming your pasta is made in Italy can get you in legal trouble in the Golden State. Which brings us to another legal case you have so far not discussed.

    This week Trump had to sit down for a deposition in E. Jean Carroll’s defamation suit against the Donald. Trump claimed there was no rape inside that dressing room at Bergdorf Goodman. He called Carroll’s suit a “hoax” and said, besides, Carroll is not “his type”. Trump made things worse for his defense by posting 2 video-clips. The first was a Newsmax clip calling Carroll “crazy” and another calling “Ms. Bergdorf Goodmasn’ case…a complete con job”.

    Legal experts say Trump’s posts are actually undermining his legal case. Trump’s attorneys have argued that Trump’s original comments are protected as part of his official duties as president. Judge Kaplan already ruled against that argument back in 2020. But Trump is now repeating those same defamatory now that he is no longer president. George Conway had his take: “You issue a BRAND NEW statement REPEATING all the earlier defamatory statements, but since you’re no longer POTUS, you NO LONGER HAVE [the] DEFENSE you’ve been pushing for years”. Lawrence Tribe had a more succinct response: “Trump just blasted his own defense apart”.

    It makes no sense that Trump would now repeat his defamatory statements now that he is no longer POTUS. But Trump can’t resist doubling-down–because he apparently bizarrely believes he is still president! It’s what he learned from Roy Cohn. And no wonder why Trump’s lawyers are finding it difficult to provide some coherent defense. When are you going to offer some legal defense for the Trumpster? Bee keeper and pasta cases don’t seem to be the important cases this week.

    1. Most of us have seen Carrol herself on the news – she is CRAZY. Truth is a defense.

      If you have a legal expert that says Trump is undermining his case – they are OBVIOUSLY wrong.

      Trump’s prior remarks are on the record. They are either legitimate defamation claims for which the plaintiff can be made whole, or they are not.
      Repeating them does not change that. The only impact is on damages and only if legitimately harmful defamation is found.

      George Conway is not a useful source for anything.

      BTW doubling down makes perfect sense – for someone telling the truth.

      Your legal analysts are idiots – you claim that Trump’s first offered defense was rejected, and then you claim that SUBSEQUENTLY his conduct is undermining a defense that has already been rejected.

      Do any of you left wing nuts understand things like timelines ?

      Frankly, this should have been thrown out. Carrol is making a criminal allegation regarding something there is no evidence happened decades ago. The burden of proof is on her.
      Calling such allegations crazy is not defamation – unless the allegations can be proven.
      Calling the person making the allegations crazy is not defamation – unless the allegation can be proven

    2. You constantly confuse

      “It makes not sense”


      “It makes no sense to you”

      They are not the same.

  9. For instance, French, Italian, Mexican style food is cooked in restaurants all over the world. Will they go after restaurants next?

    1. “For instance, French, Italian, Mexican style food is cooked in restaurants all over the world. Will they go after restaurants next?”BG

      There is a successful BBQ/Smokehouse in Des Moines run by a 1st generation Chinese man. Maybe the National Pork Producers (HQ in Des Moines) should go after him for false advertising.

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