On Thursday, a Sanderson Farms Inc. shareholder proposal to stop the use of medically important antibiotics for animal growth and disease prevention did not pass with enough votes.
Sanderson Farms is one of the largest poultry producers in the U.S. and is now one of the only poultry companies not committed to limiting the use of antibiotics in its meat products. The company only uses antibiotics to prevent disease in its chickens, not for enhanced growth. Those antibiotics include gentamicin and virginiamycin.
The use of antibiotics had gained significant attention in recent years since farm use of antibiotics appears to be directly linked to human infections from drug-resistant bacteria, better known as superbugs. However, Sanderson Farms does not believe such a correlation exists. Despite much public demand for food companies to update existing antibiotics-use policies, Sanderson Farms maintains that their customers are actually not demanding antibiotic-free chicken.
The poultry producer's decision to not change their antibiotics-use policy goes against the current trend occurring throughout the food industry. Over the past couple of years, a number of food giants have announced plans to limit or completely remove antibiotics from their meat products--Wendy’s, Subway, Tyson Foods, McDonald’s and Perdue, to name a few.
Sanderson Farms’ decision to continue using antibiotics may come as no surprise to some. Even in 2015, the poultry producer announced that they had no plans to reduce or eliminate use of antibiotics in their sourced livestock.