Smithfield Foods may have appeased animal rights groups with its decision to move its sows out of gestation crates, but new groups are now eyeing Smithfield Packing. A  coalition of faith, consumer advocate, student, civil-rights and immigrant-rights groups, beginning March 31, intend to protest supermarkets selling products made at Smithfield Packing Co.'s Tar Heel, N.C., plant.

Harris Teeter supermarkets in North Carolina will be a target. However a coalition spokesperson points out that Harris Teeter has already reduced its Smithfield product line.  "Many consumers don't want to purchase products they say are packaged with abuse," she said.

But according to a Smithfield spokesperson, "We're still doing business with Harris Teeter."

Jefferson Market and Restaurant, a landmark student grocery store in Ann Arbor, Mich., became the first store to ban Smithfield's Tar Heel-produced meats, reports Meatingplace.com.

At issue, according to the coalition, is worker safety and the company's efforts to keep workers from unionizing. The United Food and Commercial Workers International union is supporting the planned protests, and UFCW cites a Research Associates of America study that injuries at Tar Heel have risen 200 percent from 2003 to 2006.

Smithfield's spokesperson says the packer "welcomes an election at any time. This has nothing to do with anything going on in this plant," he says. "Our plant is as safe or safer than any union plant, and our wages are as good or better than any other facility."

Source: Yahoo news, Meatingplace.com