100% Natural

Frequently Asked Questions

Do male and female broiler chickens look alike?

Male and female broiler chickens look almost identical. Perhaps most surprisingly, male broiler chickens don’t look like stereotypical roosters with big tail feathers and a tall, red crown. While young, both males and females have white feathers with very similar red facial features.

Can you explain some of the confusing terms I find on packaging labels?

The following are some of the most often used terms and what they really mean:

USDA Certified: This means the product has been examined by the USDA for class, grade (for example, Grade A) and other characteristics that demonstrate quality.

Chemical-Free: The term is often used in marketing but it is illegal to have on a label.

Free Range or Free Roaming: This doesn't mean that the chickens are out roaming the fields like cattle. It only means that they are offered access to the outdoors. They aren't necessarily raised there.

Fresh Poultry: This is raw poultry that has never had an internal temperature of less than 26° F.

Meat Derived by Advanced Meat/Bone Separation and Meat Recovery Systems: A very long term to note that a mechanical separator has been used to separate the meat from the bone instead of doing it by hand.

Mechanically Separated Poultry: This is poultry that has had the chicken meat separated from the bone by a sieve under high pressure. This meat is often used in further processed meats or meat products. As such, this meat must be designated as "mechanically separated chicken" within the ingredients statement on such products.

Natural: If the chicken package claims "natural," USDA regulations state that the product contains no artificial ingredients and is only minimally processed. Sanderson Farms takes this claim a little more seriously. We believe that a chicken product claiming to be "natural" should contain no additives of any kind such as salt, water, broth or carrageenan (a seaweed extract). Sanderson Farms chicken is 100% Natural chicken with no additives! Be sure to read the fine print for hidden additives in other brands.

No Antibiotics: Poultry sold with "no antibiotics" on the label means that the chicken didn't receive any form of antibiotic treatment at any time. A chicken raised without antibiotics isn't any safer or tastier than one that was treated at some point to ward off disease. Read more about antibiotic use in chicken here.

No Hormones: Federal regulations prohibit the use of added hormones. The claim "no hormones added" doesn't really mean anything since their use is illegal in poultry to begin with.

Where can I buy Sanderson Farms products in my neighborhood?

Sanderson Farms products are sold in nearly every state across the country. Visit our store finder page to find a location near you.

Are chickens raised without antibiotics safer to eat?

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) extensively monitor and test the administration of all antibiotics in chickens. To date, neither FDA nor USDA have identified detectable levels of any medicine in chickens raised by Sanderson Farms.

Are your products gluten-free?

Yes. All fresh, single ingredient chicken is gluten-free. Always be sure to look for any fine print that may mention added solutions, seasonings or coatings.

What is the safest way to defrost poultry?

When possible, thaw your frozen chicken in the refrigerator, never on the countertop. This generally takes about five hours per pound, so it's good to plan ahead. If you're in a hurry, you can immerse wrapped poultry in cold water. Be sure to change the water every half hour or so for effective thawing. You can also use the microwave, but watch the chicken carefully since the thinner portions tend to cook while the thicker sections are still thawing. Follow the microwave manufacturer's recommendations regarding defrosting cycles for poultry. You can learn more about storage in the cooking tips section of our site.

I noticed a puffy package of chicken at the store with what appears to be extra air in it. Is it spoiled, or will it spoil faster?

No. Most likely, the package is puffy with air because the packaging equipment allowed too much air to cover the product and tray when applying the film. Extra air in the package doesn’t affect the chicken. As long as the chicken has been maintained at the proper temperature and is within the use or sell-by date, it is wholesome to cook.

How long is it safe to keep your products in the refrigerator or freezer?

We recommend you keep fresh, uncooked poultry in the refrigerator for no more than two days to ensure maximum freshness. If you're planning to freeze your chicken, you should do it immediately upon returning from your shopping trip. You can learn more about storage in the cooking tips section of our site.

How do I safely prepare your products?

Chicken is easy to prepare. With some basic safe handling techniques, you can create wonderful meals for you and your family. And, as you’re out there grilling, rest assured that the chicken industry is prudently minding the farm, ensuring the continued good health of the chickens … and you. Properly cooking chicken at the right heat will always ensure your poultry is safe from bacteria. Just remember, for safe eating, boneless chicken should always be cooked to an internal temperature of at least 165 °F. For bone-in chicken, breasts should be cooked to 170 °F and whole chickens, thighs and wings should reach at least 180 °F. All juices should be clear. Make sure to measure the temperature with a food thermometer. Afterward, be sure to refrigerate any leftovers within two hours after cooking. Take a look at our other cooking tips to make sure your chicken stays fresh from store to table.

Are chickens given all the same antibiotics as humans and what about antibiotic resistance?

Very few antibiotics used in human medicine are actually approved by the FDA for use in chickens. As of January 2017, human-used antibiotics may only be used on chickens to address disease and sickness. These antibiotics must be administered under the exclusive supervision and prescription of a veterinarian in accordance with FDA guidelines – which has been our standard practice long before this law was written. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) extensively monitor and test the administration of all antibiotics in chickens. To date, neither FDA nor USDA have identified detectable levels of any medicine in Sanderson’s chickens. These industry and governmental restrictions on the use of the human-used antibiotics is part of an ongoing effort to limit bacteria from becoming resistant to antibiotics. Rest assured, everyone in the chicken industry have the same vested interest in preserving the effectiveness of our human antibiotics. After all, they protect our families too. That's why we ONLY use antibiotics if prescribed by one of our veterinarians and ONLY with the utmost care and oversight, looking out for the best health of all in our communities. As of March 1, 2019, Sanderson Farms does not intend to use antibiotics important to human medicine for disease prevention, but will only use such antibiotics for disease treatment.

Are your birds cage-free?

The truth is, none of the chicken you buy in a store is raised in a cage. We exercise all measures to be sure our flocks are provided the best possible care. Chickens are raised in a climate-controlled environment and are free to roam around the facility they are housed in. They are kept safe from outside predators and potential diseases. For their own safety and well-being, the only time they are caged is when they are transported a short distance from the farm to the processing plant.

How are your chickens raised?

Sanderson Farms has strict procedures and policies with regard to how our chickens are cared for and maintained which growers and employees are required to follow. Our number one priority is serving people chicken that is delicious, high quality and safe to eat. Ensuring our birds are healthy and comfortable is the best way we do that. Our veterinary staff ratio to number of chickens is one of the best in the industry, and the veterinary oath they have taken promises to provide the best animal care possible, while also protecting humans. Click to see a day in the life.

Do you use growth hormones or steroids?

Absolutely not. The use or administration of hormones or steroids in chicken production is strictly prohibited by the USDA. The only hormones found in our chickens are those that occur naturally. Just like they do in any living plant or animal.

How can I prevent foodborne illness?

Answer: There are three simple ways to prevent a foodborne illness. First, is by ensuring proper storing of food in the refrigerator (40 °F or below) or freezer (0 °F or below). Second, is by properly cooking chicken to a safe minimum internal temperature of 165°F and measuring by a meat thermometer at its thickest portion. Finally, always ensure you wash your hands after handling raw food and be careful of cross contamination. Take a look at our foodborne illness infographic to make sure your chicken stays fresh from store to table.

Do you use antibiotics in your chicken?

Yes. The responsible use of antibiotics is something that we take very seriously. All antibiotics are given by the order of our on-staff veterinarians for the benefit of the flocks’ health, which is the first step in judicious antibiotic use in food animals.

However, Sanderson is constantly evaluating its policies regarding antibiotic use. So, after deliberate and careful consideration, including consultation of recognized experts, as of March 1, 2019, we no longer intend to use medically important antibiotics for prevention of disease, but will continue to use those antibiotics for disease treatment when necessary and under the direction of our veterinarians. There are three reasons why:

1) Food Safety: We work very hard on a daily basis to reduce the microorganisms on our chickens that are coming to the plants. Sick birds carry heavier loads of bacteria. If we ignore bird health, the risks are much greater that we will experience higher counts of campylobacter and more salmonella in our plants, which is certainly not desirable. For further explanation, see questions under Food Safety & More.

2) Animal Welfare: We have a moral obligation to take care of the animals in our care. While we utilize good poultry husbandry and best live management practices to minimize the need for antibiotics, sometimes disease challenges arise within our flocks. For further explanation, see questions under Animal & Human Welfare.

3) Sustainability and Environmental Responsibility: Sick chickens do not grow well, that means they need more food, water, and time to grow. Given the number of farm animals raised for food in the United States, even small reductions in live animal growth could have a significant environmental impact. For further explanation, see questions under Animal & Human Welfare.

We are committed to using antibiotics responsibly.

Are your chickens genetically modified?

No, our chickens are not genetically modified. Just like farmers have done for centuries, modern breeding farms mate the healthiest and strongest birds to produce a stronger line of offspring, but they are not genetically modified. Some people are concerned about today's chickens being cloned or mutated to have extra wings and legs. That is simply not possible.

Please refer to the question, WHAT DO YOU FEED YOUR CHICKEN, to learn about genetically modified organism (GMO) use in the chicken industry.

What do you feed your chicken?

By operating our own feed mills, we have total control over what our poultry eats. Our in-house nutritionist ensures that the chickens' corn/soy-based diets contain all the protein, energy, vitamins and minerals we require in our poultry. Because more than 90% of the corn and 80% of the soybeans grown in the US are raised from genetically modified seeds, most conventional animal feeds contain GMO grains. Unlike many organic grains, 100% of the grains (corn and soybean meal) used to feed our chickens are grown, harvested and processed in the United States.

Please visit this link to learn about genetically modified organism (GMO) use in the chicken industry.

What do you mean by 100% Natural?

USDA has defined "Natural" as minimally processed with no artificial ingredients. While some companies add a solution to their fresh "natural" chicken products that can include water, salt, broth, or carrageenan (a seaweed extract), Sanderson Farms chicken is minimally processed without adding any other ingredients. Our whole chicken, just like all of our products, is 100% natural and raised with the standards set forth by the National Chicken Council.
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