Sanderson stops antibiotics use but lawsuit still active


By: Jack Weatherly, Mississippi Business Journal 

March 7, 2019


Sanderson Farms Inc. said it would on March 1 stop using antibiotics in its poultry that are vital to fighting infections in humans.


The Laurel-based firm, the nation’s third-largest poultry producer, has fought a lawsuit brought by consumer groups in June 2017 against use of such antibiotics.


Sanderson is the last major producer to stop using the antibiotics.


It commissioned an independent study that led it to decide that the change “could represent a responsible compromise to better preserve efficacy of antibiotics important for human health,” the company said in a prepared statement, according to Reuters.


But that decision might not be sufficient to end the litigation in federal court.


Sanderson was sued by Friends of the Earth and the Center for Food Safety in the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court for Northern California.


An official for the Center for Food Safety was quoted in a publication called Animal Pharm that “Sanderson Farms is taking a good first step toward eliminating the use of medically important antibiotics in livestock production.”


“We hope Sanderson will utilize a third-party certifier to verify these production practices so that consumers can be assured that these chickens are raised without the routine use of antibiotics.”


Mike Cockrell, Sanderson’s Chief Financial and Legal Officer, said in an email to the Mississippi Business Journal tha he had no comment on the Center For Food Safety statement.


Sanderson has long advertised its poultry as “natural.”


However, the term “natural” is not strictly defined or regulated by the government agencies that oversee the public food supply...