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CINCINNATI - The Kroger Co. has become the latest target of the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), as the animal rights group persuades businesses to adopt tougher policies on the mistreatment of animals, the Cincinnati Post reports.
In a letter to Kroger Chairman and CEO Joseph A. Pichler, PETA has threatened a "cruelty boycott" unless the company adopts Food Marketing Institute guidelines that are scheduled for release next month.
Kroger went on record in support of the institute's standards last July and says it is working with the organization "to develop an industrywide animal welfare program that will insure animals are treated humanely at every step of the production process," according to the Cincinnati Post.
"FMI has said it will complete that formal review process shortly. We believe this collaborative approach - which brings together processors, producers, retailers and animal welfare experts - will raise the standards in the meat and poultry industries," the Cincinnati-based company said in a statement.
But that general support for the policy isn't enough for PETA, which just called off its campaign against Safeway after that grocery chain agreed to adopt new standards.
"It's all well and good to endorse these standards, but if you do nothing to enforce them, it doesn't make any difference," said Bruce Friedrich, an official of Norfolk, Va.-based PETA.
Under pressure from PETA, Safeway agreed to conduct audits of all of its animal-product suppliers and drop suppliers that fail two audits.
The standards call for unannounced inspections of slaughterhouses, increased cage space for laying hens, animal-handling verification guidelines and a refusal to deal with suppliers who starve chickens to induce an extra laying cycle.
PETA is asking for written assurance from Kroger that it will adopt and enforce the guidelines that Safeway has agreed to follow.
The organization also has volunteered to meet with Pichler.