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Sanderson Farms changes antibiotics policy

One of the largest US poultry companies has announced that it will stop using antibiotics considered medically important for humans for disease prevention in its live poultry operations.

The change in policy by Sanderson Farms follows the completion of an independent study the company commissioned earlier this year on its antibiotics programme.

Joe Sanderson Jnr, chairman and chief executive officer of Sanderson Farms, said the firm had decided to discontinue the use of virginiamycin and gentamicin from 1 March 2019.

Medically important for humans

“These are the only two antibiotics considered medically important for humans that we currently use for prevention purposes. Our live production team, including our team of veterinarians, is prepared to ensure this change has as little impact as possible on the health and welfare of our birds and environmental resources.

“As we have stated many times, we and our veterinary team are committed to the judicious use of antibiotics in our birds. The change we are announcing today is consistent with this commitment and with our dedication to antibiotic stewardship and animal welfare.”

The move was welcomed by the US Natural Resources Defense Council, which said antibiotic overuse was one of the largest human health threats of our time.

David Wallinga, senior health officer at the NRDC, said: “This is a welcome change of heart and good news for people’s health. To inspire consumer confidence, however, these new pledges will need to be independently verified.

“Curbing overuse of these life-saving drugs will help keeping them working when sick people or animals truly need them,” he added.