Sanderson Farms, Inc.: Adopt Antibiotic Phase Out Policy

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WHEREAS: The world’s leading medical authorities, including the World Health Organization (WHO) and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), have reported that antibiotic resistance is a global public health crisis that threatens to overturn many of the medical advances made over the last century.

Antibiotics are losing their effectiveness due in significant part to irresponsible overuse in meat and poultry production. The more that antibiotics are used, the faster antibiotic-resistant bacteria evolve. If no action is taken, antibiotic resistance could cause 300 million premature deaths and up to $100 trillion in global economic damage by 2050.[1]

Over 70% of medically important antibiotics in the U.S. are sold for livestock use.[2] These drugs are often fed to animals in a routine manner to prevent disease caused by unhealthy conditions, rather than to treat diagnosed illness.

In November 2017, WHO recommended “[a] complete restriction of [medically important] antibiotics for growth promotion and disease prevention without diagnosis.”[3]

Sanderson Farms has publicly stated that “there is not any credible science that leads us to believe we’re causing antibiotic resistance in humans.” This stance ignores the science recognized by every major medical authority. Sanderson Farms’ position has led to substantial negative press.[4]

Research has shown that poultry processing workers are 32 times more likely to carry antibiotic-resistant E. coli bacteria[5], meaning Sanderson Farms’ use of antibiotics threatens the health and safety of many of its 11,000 employees. 

Sanderson Farms’ routine use of antibiotics does not enhance food safety. In fact, as of July 2018, 10 of Sanderson’s 11 processing plants were listed as “Category 3” by USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service, meaning these plants exceeded the maximum allowable number of positive Salmonella samples during the preceding 3 months.[6] Sanderson accounted for about one-third of Category 3 processing plants in the U.S.  

A recent civil lawsuit alleges Sanderson’s marketing misleads consumers to believe the company’s chicken is “100% Natural” when USDA testing identified 49 instances in which Sanderson Farms’ chicken contained residues of synthetic drugs, including ketamine and medically important antibiotics.[7]

To protect public health from antibiotic resistant infections and salvage the company’s reputation, shareholders urge Sanderson to follow the World Health Organization recommendations. 

Sanderson Farms risks losing market share to companies who have stronger antibiotics policies, such as Perdue Farms, which raises 95% of its chickens without antibiotics. 

Mainstream consumers have increasingly higher expectations for health and sustainability when purchasing food;[8] to meet this demand,all major restaurant chains now prohibit medically important antibiotics in their chicken supply chains (including McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Burger King, KFC, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, Subway, Chik-Fil-A). 

RESOLVED:  Shareholders request that Sanderson Farms adopt an enterprise-wide policy to phase out the use of medically important antibiotics in its meat and poultry supply chain, with an exception for treatment and non-routine control of diagnosed illness.










Resolution Details

Company: Sanderson Farms, Inc.

Lead Filer: 
As You Sow 

Year: 2019

Filing Date: 
August 2018

Initiative(s): Antibiotics and Factory Farms

Status: Agreement Reached; Resolution Withdrawn

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