Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

PETA Uses Stock Buy to Peck at Winn-Dixie; Group Wants Grocer to Use More Humane Methods to Slaughter Its Poultry

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

PETA Uses Stock Buy to Peck at Winn-Dixie; Group Wants Grocer to Use More Humane Methods to Slaughter Its Poultry

Article excerpt

Byline: DIANA MIDDLETON

The controversial animal rights organization, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, has added a new stock to its investment portfolio: Winn-Dixie.

The activist group purchased 250 Winn-Dixie shares this month, worth $4,020 as of the close of trading Thursday. It's the group's effort to pressure the Jacksonville-based grocer to, in turn, pressure its suppliers to alter their poultry slaughter methods.

The organization, known for attention-grabbing antics (like, say, nailing fur-wearing Vogue editor Anna Wintour with a cream pie during Paris Fashion Week in 2005) also purchased stock in 31 other companies, including Wal-Mart, Kroger Co. and Safeway as well as poultry powerhouse Tyson Foods.

The goal is to have suppliers shift to controlled-atmosphere killing, which renders poultry unconscious before the slaughter, said Matt Prescott, a PETA spokesman. He said the group purchased just enough shares to be able to submit a shareholder resolution, which would then be decided upon during the company's annual meeting. (The Securities Exchange Commission requires $2,000 worth of stock to submit such a resolution.)

So far, the direct communication from Winn-Dixie to PETA has been zilch, according to Prescott: "We wrote a letter to them immediately following our stock purchase," Prescott said.

"Unfortunately, we haven't heard back from them."

Winn-Dixie spokeswoman Robin Miller did not respond to phone or e-mail inquiries Thursday about any correspondence between PETA and the grocery chain.

That said, Winn-Dixie Chief Executive Officer Peter Lynch told the Times-Union Monday that he had no immediate plans to change any of the chain's poultry vendors, even with PETA among its stockholders.

And as long as most stockholders are comfortable with the company's business practices, and customers are happy, "Why change?" he asked during a luncheon at the Times-Union offices.

Last week Miller said in a statement the grocer had already taken steps to help ensure the well-being of animals before they wind up in stores. The grocer has worked for years with the Food Marketing Institute, a trade organization based in Washington, D. …

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