PETA withdraws call for boycott of Safeway stores
Under pressure, grocer agrees to periodically inspect slaughterhouses
to make sure animals are treated humanely
By Janet Adamy
CONTRA COSTA TIMES
A prominent animal rights group said Wednesday it will
stop urging shoppers to boycott Safeway because the grocery giant has
agreed to more closely monitor animal conditions at its meat suppliers.
Pleasanton-based Safeway struck a
deal with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals on Tuesday to
inspect a pig farm and implement a set of trade group guidelines that
will improve living conditions for chickens and cows.
As a result, PETA has canceled the
colorful protest it planned to hold outside the Safeway shareholders
meeting in San Ramon scheduled for today. It would have included costumed
cow and butcher performers enacting a cow skinning with a papier-m�ch�
"We're delighted," said
Bruce Friedrich, director of PETA's vegan campaign. "It is a first
history, and our assumption is that Kroger, Albertson's and Wal-Mart
will be forced to make similar concessions."
Safeway spokesman Brian Dowling said
the boycott didn't impact the company, and that accepting the guidelines
wasn't a bow to pressure. "I think it was
a combination of us being tuned into the issue in general, but we'll
give PETA credit for alerting the food industry about a year and a half
ago to the issue."
PETA had complained that hens raised
for Safeway are packed into small cages that prevent them from stretching
their wings and that suppliers slice off chickens' beaks to keep them
from pecking each other. PETA alleged breeding sows are kept in concrete
stalls that prevent the animals from being able to move for months at
The Food Marketing Institute, an industry
trade group, won't release its guidelines until June, but PETA and Safeway
confirmed they will mandate:
� Unannounced inspections of cattle, pig
and chicken slaughterhouses.
� A system to guarantee animals don't feel pain before they're
� Increased cage space for hens that are laying eggs.
� More humane handling procedures for chickens in slaughterhouses.
� Refusal to buy from suppliers that starve chickens to induce
an extra laying cycle.
� Unannounced audits of Seaboard Farms, a pig meat supplier
where PETA videotaped pigs being beaten.
� Grocers stop buying from suppliers that fail such audits.
� Eliminate the most severe de-beaking.
Dowling added that the company already
inspects the way its suppliers treat their animals. He said Seaboard
has fired the workers who abused the pigs. PETA
did not get everything it wanted. Friedrich said the group would have
preferred that Safeway immediately implement the animal treatment standards
it pushed for and achieved at fast-food restaurants McDonald's, Burger
King and Wendy's.
PETA launched the boycott in February
-- its first of a grocery chain -- after more than a year of asking
Safeway to pressure its suppliers to treat their animals better. Bay
Area animal rights activists have been standing outside Safeway stores
in Oakland, Berkeley and San Francisco every week since February passing
out fliers that urge customers to stop shopping there.
Even though PETA has been asking other
grocers for similar concessions, it originally singled out Safeway for
the boycott because it claimed Safeway was particularly unresponsive.
It's now turning its attention to Kroger and Albertson's, Friedrich