Whole Foods removes "offensive" Obama chicken ad

A sign is posted in front of a Whole Foods store February 17, 2010 in San Rafael, California.
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

A Whole Foods supermarket in New York has removed a depiction of President Obama that several neighbors found offensive, WNBC reported.

A sign posted in front of a Whole Foods in Manhattan's Upper West Side advertised organic chicken using a rendering of Mr. Obama. The use of the president's image did not sit well with some who objected to the racial stereotypes at work behind the advertisement.

"There are certain things that have been used to put down black people - watermelon, fried chicken," neighbor Woody Henderson told WNBC.

Added Bronx resident Jason Nunez: "Even if he's not the president, you're going to have an African American promoting the sale of chicken? They can do better than that."

A Whole Foods spokesman explained that the supermarket chain creates a variety of images to promote store merchandise and that "there was no disrespect meant at all" in the decision to use Mr. Obama's likeness in an ad for chicken.

The sign was removed after "it was brought to our attention by a shopper that it may be perceived as offensive," the spokesman said.

It's not the first snafu involving the up-market grocery chain and Mr. Obama: Whole Foods CEO John Mackey unleashed controversy earlier this year when he compared the president's health care reform law to "fascism."

Mackey later said on "CBS This Morning" that his comparison was "a bad choice of words," but did not retract the substance of his criticism. "We no longer have free-enterprise capitalism in health care," he said. "The government is directing it. So we need a new word for it."