While many major chicken companies, restaurant chains and food service providers are switching to chickens raised without antibiotics important for human medicine, Sanderson Farms seems to be moving in the opposite direction. Last summer, Sanderson Farms launched an outrageous advertising campaign claiming that raising chickens without using these drugs is only a marketing gimmick—a blatant and unacceptable deception. Leading health and medical organizations, and a vast scientific literature, have warned that livestock antibiotic use is indeed contributing to the problem of antibiotic resistance. Is Sanderson Farms any different? Our analysis of FDA’s testing data for retail chicken, presented below, suggests otherwise: Like most every other major chicken company, Sanderson Farms is spreading antibiotic resistant bacteria on the meat it sells.
The World Health Organization, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Infectious Disease Society of America, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the European Medicines Agency & European Food Safety Agency and many other organizations and scientists around the world have called for reducing livestock use of antibiotics. That’s because when chicken and livestock producers use antibiotics repeatedly to raise animals, some bacteria become drug resistant, thrive, and spread to threaten humans. If we keep over-using these drugs to raise food animals, we weaken their potency for treating human disease.
This concern has propelled many major food companies to change their antibiotic use policies to raise animals without using antibiotics important for human medicine except to treat sick animals. Companies fighting back against superbugs include: Panera Bread, Chipotle, Perdue, Tyson, McDonalds, Wendy’s, Compass USA, Subway, Taco Bell, and others.