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Sanderson CEO gives three reasons for sticking with antibiotics

Count Joe Sanderson Jr., chairman and CEO of Sanderson Farms, as being on the opposite side of the current movement to shift away from the use of antibiotics in poultry production, according to a report by Keith Nunes in Meat+Poultry.

“This is not something that we take lightly,” he reportedly said May 12 during a presentation at the Goldman Sachs Global Staples Forum.

“And frankly, after doing our homework, we do not plan to withdraw antibiotics from our program.”

Sanderson cited animal welfare, sustainability and food safety as reasons for sticking with antibiotics. In particular, he cited the need to control enteritis — a common gut disease of poultry. “We feel like we need to take care of the animals in our care,” he said.

The poultry executive said pulling antibiotics could hurt the industry’s commitment to sustainability. “It’s going to take more chicken houses, more electricity, more water, more acres of corn, and more acres of soybeans,” Sanderson said of the antibiotic-free movement. He also expressed concern that curtailing antibiotics might undermine food safety.

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