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DALLAS - People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) launched its boycott against Safeway Inc.'s supermarket chains Monday, the Dallas Morning News reports.
The animal rights group has been lobbying Safeway to force its suppliers to adopt more humane treatment of animals raised and slaughtered to supply its grocery shelves.
Brian Dowling, vice president of public relations at Safeway's California headquarters, said the company has seen "no evidence to indicate any systemic or widespread abuse of animals among our suppliers."
Bruce Friedrich, PETA's vegan campaign coordinator, said the group started talking with Safeway in October 2000 and thought the retailer would be cooperative about abuses it discovered. He said Safeway decided to ask the Food Marketing Institute to research and set standards that companies can follow.
"We don't believe the trade group can move as fast as Safeway can. We think they're ignoring the problems," Friedrich said. "If the fast-food giants can make improvements, Tom Thumb has no excuse for its lack of action."
Dowling said the company requires suppliers to meet all government safety and sanitation requirements. "We buy meat and poultry products from the same top, reputable, government-inspected sources as our competition," he said.
PETA said it found that at a Safeway pork supplier, pigs were routinely mistreated and some were left to die slow, agonizing deaths from severe injuries.
Dowling said that one complaint brought to Safeway's attention "was an isolated incident that was immediately addressed by the supplier."
The group cited several other incidents involving chickens, ducks and cows.
PETA is working in Texas with a Dallas-based group called Animal Connection of Texas. That group plans to set up tables at various public events and pass out anti-Safeway literature, Friedrich said.
PETA held a press conference Monday in Dallas and has another one planned in Los Angeles next week with James Cromwell, the actor who played the farmer in Babe, a movie about a talking pig.