Animal Husbandry

Poultry Giant ‘Sanderson Farms’ to stop using Human Antibiotic Use in Chicken Supply

Sanderson Farms Inc, the third largest poultry producer in the US will stop using antibiotics essential in combating human infections to prevent diseases in chickens by March 2019. With this, it becomes the last major chicken producer to step away from the drugs.

The move by Sanderson Farms addresses fear that the overuse of antibiotics in the chickens might reduce their effectiveness in fighting disease in people. It is a turnaround for the company, which has run commercials protecting its use of antibiotics and warding off shareholder proposals advising it to curb drugs usage.

Director of the antibiotics program for US PIRG Matt Wellington said, “Sanderson Farms is late to the game, but better late than never”.

Laurel, Mississippi-based farm has made the decision to stop its antibiotics use for disease prevention after commissioning an independent research of its production practices. According to a company statement, it found that change “could symbolize a responsible compromise to better preserve efficiency of antibiotics important for human health”.

As per reports, Sanderson Farms will stop using an antibiotic known as ‘gentamicin’ to keep the chicks fit in its hatcheries and the other called virginiamycin in its feed. Removing gentamicin will raise the mortality rate for baby chicks in their 1st week of existence, Chief Financial Officer Mike Cockrell said, adding that the company will work to cut the losses.

Researchers from World Health Organization (WHO) and other groups are warning that by using antibiotics to endorse growth and prevent illness in healthy farm animals leads to rise of hazardous antibiotic-resistant ‘superbug’ infections that can kill 23000 Americans every year.

Cockrell said that there is no science that connects the use of antibiotics in farm animals to antibiotic-resistance in human beings, though the firm decided to change its practices amid concerns about such a link.



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