Barilla Backlash Includes Connecticut Petition

By Debra Bogstie
|  Friday, Sep 27, 2013  |  Updated 11:26 PM EDT
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A Shelton mother of a gay man has started a petition for Stop & Shop to remove Barillo pasta from their shelves after the pasta giant's CEO made controversial comments about homosexuals.

Debra Bogstie and Thomas Kienzler

A Shelton mother of a gay man has started a petition for Stop & Shop to remove Barillo pasta from their shelves after the pasta giant's CEO made controversial comments about homosexuals.

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The chairman of one of the world's best known pasta brands has sparked calls for a consumer boycott after saying Barilla would never use a gay family in its commercials.

Protests have popped up online and include a petition from Linda Ferraro, a Connecticut mother who's son is gay. Ferraro is urging Stop and Shop Supermarkets to stop carrying the brand.

"I shop at Stop & Shop, and now that I dumped Barilla, I think they should, too.  Please join me and urge Stop & Shop to take Barilla off their shelves," wrote Ferraro on her Change.org petition page.  

The controversy started earlier this week when C.E.O. Guido Barilla made the anti-gay remarks.

"I would never do a commercial with a homosexual family, not for lack of respect but because we don't agree with them," Barilla Chairman Guido Barilla said in a Radio 24 interview Wednesday. "Ours is a classic family where the woman plays a fundamental role."

Barilla also told the Italian radio station he opposed adoption by gay parents, but supported gay marriage, which is not legal in Italy, according to Reuters.

Many customers can't believe it.

"That's funny because I'm gay and I love Barilla pasta, but there goes Barilla," said Kristie Lavorgna of Shelton.  "Barilla's my favorite but now that he said that, forget it."

The comments have brought about a flurry of criticism on the company's Facebook page with customers who said they would no longer buy the company's products.

Barilla pasta has frequently featured the image of a happy family feasting in a countryside setting and the tagline: "Where there's Barilla, there's home."

The controversy prompted the C.E.O. to issue a videotaped apology.

"Yesterday I apologized for offending many people around the world.  Today I am repeating that apology," said Barilla.

Despite the controversy, some customers are still stocking up.

"I'm sure there's a lot of people that work for him that don't feel the same way he does so I hate to punish the people that are working hard just because he's a fool at the top of the food chain," said Lisa Romano of Stratford.

Barilla products remain on Stop and Shop shelves.

In response to the petition, Stop and Shop released a statement saying, "We partner with thousands of suppliers to bring our customers the products they want to purchase in our stores.  The decision to carry or not carry a product does not imply that we endorse their views on any given subject."

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