(NEW YORK) -- The president of Barilla is apologizing for saying that he would never use a gay family in the pasta maker's ads.
Guido Barilla said in an Italian radio interview that his pasta is for the traditional family. He said gay people could eat another pasta if they did not like his message.
"We accept his invitation to not eat his pasta," said Aurelio Mancuso, president of gay-rights group Equality Italia, in a statement in Italian.
Boycotting Twitter users shared the hashtag #boicottabarilla, or "boycott Barilla."
But Barilla quickly walked back his comments.
"With reference to remarks made yesterday to an Italian radio program, I apologize if my words have generated controversy or misunderstanding, or if they hurt someone's sensitivity," Guido Barilla said in a statement. "In the interview I simply wished to underline the central role the woman plays within the family."
Gay marriage is not legal in Italy.
He added, "For clarity, I would like to point out that I have the utmost respect for anyone, without distinction of any kind. I have the utmost respect for gay people and for everyone's right to express themselves. I've also said -- and I would like to reiterate -- that I respect gay marriages."
He continued, "In its advertising, Barilla represents the family because it's what welcomes everyone and what has always been identified with our brand."
Barilla Group, the world's largest pasta maker, says the company was created in 1877, owns 30 production sites around the world and exports to more than 100 countries. Its brands include Barilla, Mulino Bianco, Voiello, Pavesi, Academia Barilla, Wasa, Harrys in France and Russia; Misko in Greece; Filiz in Turkey; and Yemina e Vesta in Mexico.
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio