Antibiotic-resistant disease has become a serious public health threat, and the evidence shows the routine use of antibiotics in food animals such as cows and chickens plays a major role in the development and spread of these drug-resistant bacteria.1
The weight of the evidence is such that no one in their right mind would publicly argue that antibiotics in agriculture are of no consequence. Yet that’s exactly what Sanderson Farms is doing.
I predict the company will ultimately pay a steep price for its foolish and reckless behavior, but in the meantime it is perpetuating a practice that is putting your health and those that you love and care for at risk.
Sanderson Farms does not see the obvious irony of their “100% Natural” marketing claim that is plastered on their packages, websites and commercials. If “antibiotic-free” chicken is a marketing gimmick, “100% Natural” chicken raised by Sanderson Farms is about the biggest chicken fraud of all time.
Perdue Farms’ Success Proves Antibiotics Are Unnecessary
A number of poultry producers have already taken steps to cut down or eliminate antibiotics from their production. Tyson, Pilgrim’s Pride and Foster Farms have all announced they’re implementing procedures to reduce their use.
Tyson has vowed to “largely eliminate” antibiotics used in human medicine by September 2017.4 Meanwhile, Perdue Farms — the nation’s fourth largest poultry producer — started cutting back on antibiotics in 2002. It stopped using gentamicin altogether in 2014.
According to a recent report by Mother Jones,5 the only antibiotic remaining in use at Perdue is narasin, which is used to treat a parasitic intestinal condition called coccidiosis. This antibiotic is not used in human medicine, and only about one-third of Perdue’s chickens ever receive it.
Perdue clearly shows that meat can be profitably mass-produced without the use of antibiotics. The company also demonstrates that eliminating antibiotics can make the meat safer.
Perdue received the highest safety score in a 2010 Consumer Reports test6 that checked for the presence of the foodborne pathogens salmonella and campylobacter in commercial chicken meat. Fifty-six percent of Perdue’s chickens were free of both pathogens.
Meanwhile, 80 percent of Tyson and Foster Farms’ chickens tested positive for one or both bacteria. Organic store brand chickens had no salmonella at all, but 57 percent still harbored campylobacter.
According to Consumer Reports, “This is the first time since we began testing chicken that one major brand has fared significantly better than others across the board.” Even back then, Perdue’s exemplary success was attributed to its more stringent policies on antibiotics.
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