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Barilla in hot water for allegedly under-filling pasta boxes

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Has one of the world's biggest pasta makers been under filling its boxes? (Barilla Group)

One of the world's leading pasta companies has landed in hot water with some of its customers, who are accusing it of cheating them out of their beloved carbs by under-filling boxes by as much as 25 percent.

Four New York consumers say that the Barilla corporation is using “deceptive packaging” to fool consumers into thinking they are getting more pasta than they really are in the food maker’s specialty lines, according to a suit filed in Brooklyn. Barilla is allegedly putting their extra-protein, whole-grain and gluten-free pastas into the same-sized blue boxes that they use for their regular enriched macaroni, even though the boxes are filled with significantly fewer noodles.

“Barilla relies on consumers’ familiarity with the box size and appearance, known due to decades of marketing, to mislead consumers into thinking they are purchasing the same quantity of pasta when, in reality, the company is filling the boxes with materially less pasta,” the lawsuit says.

The New York-based customers complain that they are getting 9.4-percent less in boxes of Protein Plus pasta, 17.4-percent less in their whole-grain pasta and 25 percent less in their gluten-free pasta.

The “new reduced net weight” of the pasta is indicated on the box, the suit notes, but customers are otherwise uninformed that there’s been a change in the quantity of product “or that the boxes are substantially under-filled.”

Plaintiffs Alessandro Berni of The Bronx, Domenico Salvata and Mossimo Simioli of Brooklyn and Giuseppe Santochirico of Queens are suing for unspecified damages.
All four claim they were “overcharged” and suffered “out-of-pocket loss” after buying various boxes of Barilla this year that were under-filled.

“Barilla’s deceptive practice . . . is known as ‘slack-fill,’ ” the suit says. “By misleading consumers in this manner, Barilla is able to capitalize on the market . . . while preserving and/or increasing its margins.” A rep for Barilla didn’t return a message.

Barilla, which is based in Parma, Italy, produces about 25 percent of all pasta sold in the U.S. 

The lawsuit is seeking class-action status as well as compensatory and punitive damages, and legal fees on the plantiffs' behalf. 

This story originally appeared on NYPost.com.