Popular pasta brand Barilla under fire amid remarks by chairman criticized as homophobic

Conn.-based mother of GLAAD VP petitions Stop & Shop to stop carrying Barilla

NEW YORK — One of the world's leading Italian pasta brands is the subject of an international boycott after remarks that critics have characterized as disparaging gay people, and the mother of a leader in a U.S.-based gay-rights group is petitioning a supermarket chain to stop carrying it.

In a radio interview, Barilla chairman Guido Barilla was quoted as saying, "I would never do an advert with a homosexual family…if the gays don't like it, they can go eat another brand. For us, the concept of the sacred family remains one of the fundamental values of the company."

The remarks inspired worldwide calls for a boycott against the brand and an apology from Barilla. In a statement on Facebook Thursday, Barilla apologized for the remarks writing, "For clarity I would like to point out that I have the deepest respect for all people, without distinction of any kind. I have the utmost respect for homosexuals and freedom of expression. I also said, and repeat, that I have respect for marriages between people of the same sex."

Still, Linda Ferraro, the "Italian-American mom" of Rich Ferraro, a vice president of gay-rights group GLAAD, has launched an online petition to convince Northeastern supermarket chain Stop & Shop, a banner owned by Ahold USA, to stop carrying Barilla.

"As an Italian-American mom, some of my favorite memories are of sitting around the dinner table with my husband and our three sons on Sunday after church," Ferraro wrote in the petition, which as of Friday had about 1,000 signatures. "Lots of tomato sauce, lots of laughs and lots of Barilla. In fact, there are several boxes of Barilla sitting in my cabinet right now. That is about to change."

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