Barilla partners Be My Eyes to add QR codes on packaging to assist visually impaired customers

ITALY – Italian family-owned food company Barilla is expanding its partnership with Be My Eyes to incorporate QR codes on its most popular classic pasta packaging.

The new QR codes are intended to help visually impaired customers and increase the accessibility of Barilla’s products.

The new QR codes will roll out starting this month on boxes of Barilla Classic Penne, Spaghetti, Farfalle, Rotini, Rigatoni, Tri-Color Rotini, Thin Spaghetti, Fettuccini, Angel Hair and Linguine.

Consumers will be directed to Barilla colleagues through the Be My Eyes app when they scan the QR code on top of the Barilla pasta box.

They can request any visual information, including information on pasta cuts, recipes, cooking instructions, expiration dates or other visual details.

Barilla Americas Human Resource Vice-President Laura Birk said: “Ensuring our consumers have access to quality resources that allow them to better understand our products is incredibly important.

“Be My Eyes has proven to be a helpful and important resource for pasta shoppers, supporting Barilla’s mission to make our products widely accessible to all.

“We are excited to be on the cutting edge of developments in our industry to increase accessibility for individuals with visual assistance needs.”

The expansion comes after Barilla and Be My Eyes partnered last year to help shoppers connect with Barilla experts directly via smartphone cameras. The mobile app is currently accessible in more than 150 countries.

Be My Eyes founder Hans Jørgen Wiberg said: “Barilla is taking an unprecedented step to support their blind/low-vision customers by adding QR codes to their packaging.

“No matter the question, Barilla is one scan and click away from providing visual assistance to consumers.”

Barilla under fire after pasta found to be made in Iowa not Italy

Meanwhile, top pasta manufacturer Barilla has been sued for false and deceptive advertising after a judge found the packaging of the brand could deceive customers about where its products are made.

A federal magistrate judge said the packaging of the brand, which claims to be Italy’s number one brand of pasta, could lead customers to believe its products are actually made in Italy.

Matthew Sinatro and Jessica Prost had filed a class action suit against the pasta giant last year and said they purchased multiple boxes of Barilla spaghetti and their angel hair pasta as they thought the products were made in Italy.

They said in their lawsuit that the packaging of Barilla spaghetti also reinforced the idea that the product was made from authentic Italian ingredients as the box has the green, red and white colors of the Italian flag.

While the company did originate in Italy, it is now an international group headquartered in Illinois and its pastas are made in Iowa and New York, according to law news portal Courthouse News Service.

The Barilla website said the company is “now an international group present in more than 100 countries” and “is recognised worldwide as a symbol of Italian know–how”.

In their lawsuit, Mr. Sinatro and Ms. Prost claimed Barilla took advantage of their customers’ readiness to pay more for pasta products that look and sound authentically Italian while “cutting costs and reaping the financial benefits of manufacturing the products in the United States of America”.

Judge Donna Ryu said Mr. Sinatro and Ms. Prost have “sufficiently shown they suffered an economic injury” and that they would not have purchased the pasta had they known that it was not made in Italy.

She added that the pasta giant can’t avoid the lawsuit for false and deceptive advertising.

According to Walmart’s website, a box of Barilla angel hair pasta costs twice as much as the Great Value brand.

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