Companies Claim Antibiotics Given to Sanderson Farm Chickens Endanger Human Health

In Defense of Animals (IDA) and Friends of the Earth (FoE) claimed on Friday that Sanderson Farms, Inc. sold chicken products with misleading representations about the company’s practices. They claimed the farm did not represent the truth in its advertising, which allegedly is that chickens are raised inside crowded sheds and frequently given antibiotics.

The advocacy organizations claim that the advertising of Sanderson Farms would lead a customer to believe that their chickens were raised in a natural environment and not given antibiotics or other pharmaceutical chemicals. The company uses the phrase “100% Natural” along with other allegedly false statements and omissions. The advertising also leads consumers to believe that there is no “antibiotic or pharmaceutical residue” in products from Sanderson farms, which is reportedly false.

The complaint says “there is extensive reliable evidence that the use of antibiotics in poultry contributes to antibiotic-resistant bacteria; and Sanderson’s chickens have been found to contain antibiotic and/or pharmaceutical residue.” It cited that the Centers for Disease Control says that about 75 percent of new infectious diseases found in people come from animals. Giving antibiotics to poultry leads to antibiotic resistance, and resistant bacteria in a chicken can spread to humans, especially poultry workers.

The plaintiffs claimed its allegations are directly related to the COVID-19 pandemic, citing a quote from the Director of the Antibiotic Resistance Action Center at the Milken Institute for Public Health at George Washington University who said antibiotic-resistant bacteria “are going to be what ultimately kills a large portion of COVID-19 victims as they succumb to secondary bacterial pneumonia.”

The complaint argued that the “100% Natural” claims should mean the chickens are not given antibiotics and that there is no possibility of residue. The IDA and FoE claim they lost money or property because of Sanderson’s animal practices and advertising.

The plaintiffs are represented by The Law Office of Paige M. Tomaselli and Elsner Law & Policy LLC. They asked the court to rule that Sanderson violated the California Unfair Competition Law  and False Advertising Law and are seeking injunctive relief as well as pre-and post-judgement interest.