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Has Barilla Pasta Been Ripping Off Customers?

Pasta giant Barilla sued for "substantially" underfilling boxes of some pastas.


Has Barilla Pasta Been Ripping Off Customers? Photo: CC--Creative Tools

Celiac.com 10/06/2016 - If you've bought pasta in a box, or if you've even strolled your boxed pasta aisle at the supermarket, you've likely come across Barilla, and their famous blue box. Well, it turns out that the world's largest pasta-maker might have been ripping off customers by routinely under filling their boxes. In fact, Barilla is being sued for 'substantially' under-filling boxes and, as a result, cheating customers out of as much as a quarter of their noodles.

Plaintiffs Alessandro Berni, Domenico Salvata, Mossimo Simioli, and Giuseppe Santochirico, have filed a class-action lawsuit alleging that Barilla deceptively packages certain pastas in order to deceive consumers. They claim extra-protein, whole-grain, and gluten-free pastas are placed in the standard-size boxes used for plain old penne or farfalle — only these specialty boxes are "substantially under-filled."

According to the plaintiffs' math, a box of Protein Plus contains 9.4 percent less pasta, the whole-grain variety is under-filled by 17.4 percent, and the gluten-free shorts buyers a full 25 percent. At the heart of the dispute is a practice commonly known as "slack-fill," the practice of leaving empty space at the top of packaged goods.

Now, many consumers complaint about the practice, but if the contents are measured by weight, and the weight on the label matches the weight of the contents in the box, then there's no problem with slack-filling the package. Often it's done to prevent breakage. However, the plaintiffs argue that Barilla manipulated consumer familiarity with the size and look of the box, familiarity built by decades of marketing, to mislead consumers into thinking they were receiving the same quantity of pasta, even though that quantity, sold in that same familiar blue box, was up to 25% less than usual.

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The plaintiffs admit that the boxes do include a vague reference to a "new reduced net weight," but it was placed so that most customers would never notice it. Customers were otherwise uninformed that any change has been made to the amount of pasts in the box.

Previously, Barilla has found themselves in hot water for funding a health study that "found" people didn't get fat eating pasta, which might have proven true had the study relied on under-filled boxes of Barilla. Oh, and then there was that time Barilla publicly suggested that people who are gay should "eat pasta from another manufacturer."

So, will Barilla be forced to change its ways? Stay tuned to learn how this and related cases resolve.

Read more at: Grubstreet.com

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And this from Consumer Reports: http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/magazine/2012/11/arsenic-in-your-food/index.htm Rice aside, stop giving your kids apple juice too as it can contain high levels of arsenic too! Eat real apples -- not juice.

If I am in a bar and it is super busy, I ask for a "to go" cup. Why? If a dishwasher is not being used (or demand is overwhelming it), bartenders are cleaning all the glasses the old fashioned way ( sinks, wash and rinse with disinfectant). Good for killing bacteria I suppose, but maybe not for removing gluten traces. No bar is going to slow down drink orders ($$$$$) to wait for clean glasses from the dishwasher! Is this all true? I can not say. I am just speaking from experience when I was barmaid 30 years ago before there were dedicated bar dishwashers. http://www.servicethatsells.com/blog/how-to-clean-a-beer-glass/ Even if this is "all in my head", I feel better clutching my "to go" cup and can relax. ?

Check out this page and the advice on rice prep: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/articles/2F1MDzyW55pg97Tdpp7gqLN/should-i-be-concerned-about-arsenic-in-my-rice

Hi Rachel and welcome I think you've found the single best site on the web for help and advice. Hope it's of use to you. I tested negative for celiac so no referral. My experience with NHS however suggests it could be worth phoning your Gastro's office and asking the admin staff there to check on this. Things get overlooked... I would avoid anything with those warnings on. It's a pain in the arse because, for example, it recently appeared on a brand of nuts I like. However having some experience of production and marketing environments that warning will only be going on the pack if someone in the company thinks there's a chance of contamination. There's always other products to choose from so I don't take the chance. Walkers crisps have given me a reaction, yes even the sodding ready salted ones It's something to do with their production processes. I think Gary Lineker may dance through the factory each week spreading handfuls of flour for good luck. Whatever, I now avoid them. My energy levels improved over a few months after the diet. It took longer the second time after my challenge. I was still noticing improvements / weird resolutions of odd symptoms up to 9 months to a year later... Lots of good advice here: All the best! Matt

Ah.... Settles back, dons funny hat, smokes pipe, plays violin, injects heroin etc... I think you need to treat yourself as your own science experiment. If you're ok at home with all of the drinks then you can almost certainly rule out alcohol intolerance and thank your bodies burgeoning super coeliac powers of gluten detection for the reaction. Clearly your powers have grown in the past five years young jedi... In which case maybe there's a drink you can order which would reduce this risk, maybe asking for the bottle and a clean glass, forgoing ice, straws etc, anything to simplify matters and reduce the number of contaminant variables. One thing I'd avoid would be 'mixers' from the shared line. Not because there's gluten filled drinks going through them, typically its just coke, lemonade and soda water, but because the nozzle sometimes dips into the drink that's being filled. Paranoid? Maybe, but I avoid them now and pay the extra for a bottle. A word on glasses. Most bars have a dedicated glass washer and they're good, to a point. I've worked behind a bar in the past and the washers are only on for a very short time, they can run up to 35 times an hour... I've seen lipstick on glasses from them and whilst the chances of contamination are probably slight... Now if you're out for a night at different places, it will be very hard to work out where its happening. So my suggestion is to go out to one bar only and pick a decent one. Speak to a bartender or manager, explain to them just what a special snowflake you are and get one definitely clean glass at the outset then keep it for the evening and just get it refilled. Pick one drink only and stick to it. I'd suggest wine as maybe its easier on the stomach than the bubbly prosecco and you can get the little bottles without any chance of contamination but that may be nonsense See what happens... If you're ok, then you have an answer. You've become more sensitive and your reacting to trace gluten. *removes funny hat, discards pipe, hides syringe...