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Whole Foods reverses ban on veteran poppies after backlash in Canada

Nov 6 (Reuters) - Amazon.com Inc’s upscale grocer Whole Foods Market said on Friday it had reversed a decision banning its employees from sporting poppy flowers, a symbolic gesture to honour Remembrance Day, following a backlash in Canada.

The move to ban the poppy led to criticism by many on social media, with Canadians expressing their feelings by taking to Twitter with the hashtag “#LestWeForget”.

“Our new unified dress code policy is intended to create consistency and ensure operational safety across all of our stores,” a Whole Foods spokesperson said, adding that it was never the intention to single out “the poppy or to suggest a lack of support for Remembrance Day”.

The poppy is a symbol used by Commonwealth countries to recognise the sacrifice made by armed forces members who have died in the line of duty. Remembrance Day is commemorated on Nov. 11 each year.

“I think Whole Foods has made a silly mistake that I am hoping they will correct very quickly,” Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said at a news conference in Ottawa on Friday.

Veterans Affairs Minister Lawrence MacAulay has been in direct touch with the company to “highlight that they made a mistake and should change course,” Trudeau added.

Whole Foods was sued in July by employees accusing the grocery chain of punishing workers who wear “Black Lives Matter” face masks on the job. The company had then said the masks violated its longstanding dress code banning clothing with “visible slogans, messages, logos or advertising” unrelated to the company. (Reporting by Chavi Mehta and Akanksha Rana in Bengaluru; Additional reporting by David Ljunggren in Ottawa; Writing by Subrat Patnaik; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta)

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