POLICY ON ANIMAL WELFARE AND ANTIBIOTIC USE
Sanderson Farms, Inc.’s primary responsibility in producing chicken is to provide the consumer and our customers with safe, wholesome, high quality product. Accordingly, a top priority of the company is to raise healthy chickens, because healthy chickens are directly related to a safe food supply. Maintaining chicken flock health has been proven to improve food safety, so the treatment of sick chickens is consistent with Sanderson Farms, Inc.’s obligation to the consumer. Although responsible use of FDA/approved antibiotics are an important tool available to veterinarians in maintaining healthy chickens, the use of antibiotics to treat chickens when recommended by a veterinarian is currently considered by some to be undesirable.
Our veterinarians prescribe antibiotics for use in chickens when necessary. When used, all antibiotics are administered in compliance with FDA regulations regarding dose level and withdrawal times before slaughter.
Veterinarians are aware that indiscriminate use of antibiotics in humans may lead to the development of bacterial infections that are resistant to treatment. Sanderson Farms has a vested interest in protecting the effectiveness of antibiotics, and is therefore totally supportive of the responsible use of any such drugs. However, any discussion regarding the limitation on the use of antibiotics in treating food animals must include a discussion of the welfare of the animals under our care. Sanderson Farms believes that all of us has a moral responsibility to relieve the suffering of animals, whether that animal is one raised for meat production or is a household pet.
Doctors of veterinary medicine take an oath to use their knowledge and skill for the protection of animal health and welfare and the prevention and relief of animal suffering. Just as these high standards leave no room for compromise, Sanderson Farms believes that its obligation to and responsibility for the welfare of animals under its stewardship likewise cannot be compromised. When the welfare of chickens under the company’s stewardship will be enhanced and the consumer’s interest not compromised by the use of antibiotics that have been reviewed, approved and licensed for use in poultry by the United States Food and Drug Administration, it is Sanderson Farms, Inc.’s policy to use those antibiotics.
Beginning March 1, 2019, Sanderson Farms no longer intends to use antibiotics that are considered important for human medicine for prevention of disease in our chicken. We do intend to continue to use antibiotics for disease treatment when necessary and under the direction of our veterinarians. While we are aware of no credible scientific research that supports the notion that the use of antibiotics that are important to human medicine when treating chickens contributes to the development of human bacterial infections that are resistant to treatment, we know from experience that refusing to treat sick animals results in poor performance, suffering and death.
Sanderson Farms is committed to continuing to take steps toward finding alternative ways to control disease, to reduce antibiotic use, and to work with its drug suppliers to phase out the use of antibiotics that are important to human medicine when alternatives become available. Toward that end, we will continue to work with suppliers to find alternatives to antibiotics that are important to human medicine, and will do all we can to contribute to the development and use of those alternatives.