Investor Proposal Challenges Major Chicken Company to Stop Denying Science and Misusing Antibiotics
Investors Resoundingly Sound the Alarm on Sanderson Farms’ Low Standards
Communications contact: Cyrus Nemati, (510) 735-8157, [email protected]
Oakland, CA – February 15, 2018 – A shareholder proposal to curb antibiotic use received strong support at the Sanderson Farms annual meeting today, with 43.1% of voting shares supporting.
The proposal, filed by non-profit shareholder advocacy group As You Sow and supported by global charity Oxfam America, requests that the company stop administering medically important (human class) antibiotics to healthy birds; this practice is used prophylactically by some producers to keep birds from getting sick in cramped and unhealthy conditions.
As You Sow introduced this proposal at the Sanderson Farms annual meeting last year and received strong support, but this latest vote makes shareholder concern even clearer.
“Sanderson Farms cannot ignore this many shareholders. The support for change is overwhelming,” said Austin Wilson, Environmental Health Manager at As You Sow. “Sanderson Farms is the only major poultry producer that has not committed to reducing reckless antibiotic use – but we don’t see that lasting very long.”
Overuse and misuse of antibiotics in animal agriculture is contributing to the rise in drug-resistant bacteria, also known as "superbugs," which threaten human and animal health. Antibiotic resistance could cause 300 million premature deaths and up to $100 trillion in global economic damage by 2050. Global health authorities – including the CDC, World Health Organization, and the United Nations report that antibiotic use in healthy animals must be reduced to protect human health. Yet, Sanderson Farms management continues to publicly deny the science of antibiotic resistance.
“It’s not just consumers who face real dangers from overuse of antibiotics in the chicken industry; farmworkers and processing workers are increasingly vulnerable to antibiotic resistant infections, which can lead to severe health problems,” says Minor Sinclair, director of Oxfam’s US Domestic Program. “There’s a credible and mounting body of scientific evidence that establishes a link between the routine use of antibiotics in chicken production and ‘superbug’ contaminations in workers.”
As You Sow has filed an exempt solicitation filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission describing the business case for adopting the shareholder proposal.
Brands that have committed to prohibit all medically important use of antibiotics in U.S. chicken include number one U.S. poultry producer Tyson Foods, McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Taco Bell, Burger King, and KFC. Another Sanderson Farms competitor, Perdue Foods, raises 95% of its chickens without any use of antibiotics.
“Sanderson is badly lagging its peers and faces reputational and regulatory risks as a result,” said Wilson. “Investors worth more than $3 trillion support limiting the use of medically important antibiotics in meat production, according to Farm Animal Investment Risk and Return.”
Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS), a major proxy advisory firm, recommended that investors support the proposal.
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As You Sow is a nonprofit organization that promotes environmental and social corporate responsibility through shareholder advocacy, coalition building, and innovative legal strategies.