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    Winn-Dixie Shifts Animal Welfare Standards

    Following complaints from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, Winn-Dixie plans to encourage improvements in farm and slaughter conditions for some animals in its supply chain.

    People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) said it has backed off from its campaign of criticism against Winn-Dixie Stores, Inc., citing changes the grocer has said it will make to its animal welfare policies.

    According to a PETA news release, Winn-Dixie has said it plans to give purchasing preference to suppliers that use or switch to controlled-atmosphere killing, and begin buying 5 percent of its turkeys from suppliers that use this method by the end of 2010. PETA said the Jacksonville, Fla.-based chain will also give purchasing preference to suppliers that don't use gestation crates, which are restrictive metal enclosures that confine pregnant pigs, and increase the total amount of pig meat that it buys from crate-free facilities by 5 percent over each of the next three years

    In addition, Winn-Dixie plans to give purchasing preference to producers of cage-free eggs, increase the amount of cage-free eggs that it sells to 4 percent by the end of 2009 and 5 percent by the end of 2010, and work toward reaching 10 percent within the next five years, the animal advocacy group said.

    As a result of the changes, PETA said it has withdrawn a shareholder proposal calling for a progress report on Winn-Dixie's animal welfare practices, which it had submitted for inclusion at the company's 2008 annual meeting.

    Winn-Dixie's new animal welfare plan is similar to those PETA has negotiated with Safeway, Inc., Harris Teeter, Inc., Burger King Holdings, Inc. and other companies.

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