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.
"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.
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 company issued a public apology on Thursday explaining that Barilla was trying to say "simply that the woman plays a central role in the family."
"Barilla features families in its commercials because it embraces anyone, and they have always been identified with our brand," the statement said.