IF YOU’VE GOT QUESTIONS,
WE’VE GOT THE ANSWERS.
Below you’ll find answers to some of the questions we’re frequently asked here at Sanderson Farms. From what it means to be 100% Natural to whether or not we’re gluten-free to everything in between. And if there’s something you’re wondering about that we haven’t covered, make sure to drop us a line. We’d love to hear from you.
WHAT DO YOU MEAN BY 100% NATURAL?
USDA has defined “Natural” as minimally processed with no artificial ingredients. While some companies add a solution to their fresh “natural” chicken products that can include water, salt, broth, or carrageenan (a seaweed extract), Sanderson Farms chicken is minimally processed without adding any other ingredients. Our “natural” chicken product is always a single ingredient: chicken.
IS SANDERSON FARMS CHICKEN EVER PROCESSED OR PURCHASED IN CHINA?
No. We have never shipped chicken outside of the U.S. for processing or purchased chicken products from another country. And we never will. Look for the words “Hatched, raised and harvested in the USA” right on our label. It’s a guarantee that all of our chickens are both raised and processed in the United States. After being processed in the U.S., our chicken is sold both at home and abroad. Once exported, our products are consumed in the countries to which they are sent. We never bring chicken back to the United States for any reason.
DOES SANDERSON FARMS IMPORT POULTRY FROM OTHER COUNTRIES?
Never. And you’ll find the proof right on our label. Look for the American flag on our packaging as our guarantee that what you’re buying is a product of the USA. In fact, all of our poultry is raised in the U.S. by our network of over 800 family owned farms. These farmers are carefully reviewed and selected prior to being contracted to grow our chickens and must adhere to the highest of standards in safety, health and sanitation to maintain these contracts.
WHAT DO YOU FEED YOUR CHICKEN?
By operating our own feed mills, we have total control over what our poultry eats. Our in-house nutritionist ensures that the chickens’ corn/soy-based diets contain all the protein, energy, vitamins and minerals we require in our poultry.
DO YOU USE ANTIBIOTICS IN YOUR CHICKEN?
At Sanderson Farms, the responsible use of antibiotics is not something that we take lightly. After deliberate and careful consideration, we do not plan to withdraw antibiotics from our program. There are three main reasons:
Reason No. 1 is animal welfare. We have a moral obligation to take care of the animals in our care. While good poultry husbandry and best live management practices can reduce the need for antibiotics, there’s one thing that cannot be treated without antibiotics, and that is enteritis in the chicken.
Enteritis is a gut condition that may make chickens sick, and sometimes it is fatal. There are no treatments currently available or coming in the future to address the condition, and refusing to treat sick chickens with FDA-approved antibiotics when we know treatment would reduce the animals’ suffering is not consistent with our animal welfare obligations.
Second, ceasing the use of antibiotics does not fit with our company’s programs focused on sustainability and environmental responsibility.
Sick chickens do not perform well. They take longer to reach market weight, and they require more resources. That includes more chicken houses, more electricity, more water, and more acres of corn and soybeans. Given the number of farm animals raised for food in the United States, even small reductions in performance could have a significant environmental impact.
Finally, ceasing the use of antibiotics would have an effect on our company’s food safety efforts. We work very hard on a daily basis to reduce the microorganisms on our chickens that are coming to the plants. Sick birds carry heavier loads of bacteria. If we ignore bird health, the risks are much greater that we will experience higher counts of campylobacter and more salmonella in our plants, which is certainly not desirable.
We have an obligation to the animals under our care to provide treatment when they are sick and such treatment will relieve that suffering. We have an obligation to future generations to produce our products in a sustainable and environmentally responsible way, using the fewest resources possible when producing our products. We have an obligation to our customers and the consumer to produce a safe, wholesome and tasty product. All three of these obligations can be better met through the responsible use of FDA-approved antibiotics when recommended by our veterinarians. We are committed to using antibiotics responsibly, and only when necessary. We are also committed to finding and using alternatives when they become available. In addition, should credible, scientific data become available that supports the notion that antibiotic use in farm animals contributes to the development of antibiotic resistant bacteria in humans, we will most certainly reevaluate our position. For now, no chicken produced or sold by Sanderson Farms contains any antibiotic residue, as required by the FDA, and in that sense, all of our chicken is antibiotic free.
ARE GROWTH HORMONES ADDED TO THE FEED OR SUPPLEMENTS?
Absolutely not. The use or administration of hormones or steroids in chicken production is prohibited by the USDA. The only hormones found in our chickens are those that occur naturally. Just like they do in any living animal.
In fact, here’s a great link that debunks the myths surrounding hormone use in poultry.
ARE YOUR PRODUCTS GLUTEN-FREE?
Yes. All fresh chicken is gluten-free.
ARE YOUR CHICKENS GENETICALLY MODIFIED?
No, our chickens are not genetically modified. Please visit this link to learn about genetically modified organism (GMO) use in the chicken industry.
WHAT QUALITY CONTROL STANDARDS DO YOU HAVE IN PLACE?
Sanderson Farms is on the leading edge of quality control in the industry. We often go beyond what is required by the USDA to ensure you receive the highest quality products available. That’s one of the reasons we insist on formulating our own feed and operating our own hatcheries. We want to control as much of our product’s environment as possible so the items you purchase are wholesome, delicious and, above all, safe.
HOW ARE SANDERSON FARMS’ CHICKENS MAINTAINED ENVIRONMENTALLY?
Sanderson Farms has strict procedures and policies with regard to how our chickens are cared for and maintained which growers and employees are required to follow. We exercise all measures to be sure our flocks are provided the best possible care. Chickens are raised in a climate-controlled environment and are free to roam around the facility they are housed in. They are kept safe from outside predators and potential diseases. For their own safety and well-being, the only time they are caged is when they are transported from the farm to the processing plant.
Our animal welfare policy complies with the USDA’s Humane Slaughter Act of 1978. This policy includes our intent to comply with the current National Chicken Council Animal Welfare Guidelines. This policy also provides for discipline up to termination of employment for inhumane treatment of Sanderson Farms poultry. Each processing and production division is audited by both internal and third-party auditors no less than once per year. We require all animal welfare auditors be certified by the Professional Animal Auditor Certification Organization (PAACO).
CAN YOU EXPLAIN SOME OF THE CONFUSING TERMS I FIND ON PACKAGING LABELS?
We can certainly try. The following are some of the most often used terms and what they really mean.
Certified: This means the product has been examined by the USDA for class, grade (for example, Grade A) and other characteristics that demonstrate quality.
Chemical-Free: The term is often used in marketing but it is illegal to have on a label.
Free Range or Free Roaming: This doesn’t mean that the chickens are out roaming the fields like cattle. It only means that they are offered access to the outdoors. They aren’t necessarily raised there.
Fresh Poultry: This is raw poultry that has never had an internal temperature of less than 26° F.
Meat Derived by Advanced Meat/Bone Separation and Meat Recovery Systems: A very long term to note that a mechanical separator has been used to separate the meat from the bone instead of doing it by hand.
Mechanically Separated Poultry: This is poultry that has had the chicken meat separated from the bone by a sieve under high pressure. This meat is often used in further processed meats or meat products. As such, this meat must be designated as “mechanically separated chicken” within the ingredients statement on such products.
Natural: If the chicken package claims “natural,” USDA regulations state that the product contains no artificial ingredients and is only minimally processed. Sanderson Farms takes this claim a little more seriously. We believe that a chicken product claiming to be “natural” should contain no additives of any kind such as salt, water, broth or carrageenan (a seaweed extract). Sanderson Farms chicken is 100% Natural chicken with no additives! Be sure to read the fine print for hidden additives in other brands.
No Antibiotics: Poultry sold with “no antibiotics” on the label means that the chicken didn’t receive any form of antibiotic treatment at any time. A chicken raised without antibiotics isn’t any safer or tastier than one that was treated at some point to ward off disease. Read more about antibiotic use in chicken here.
No Hormones: Federal regulations prohibit the use of added hormones. The claim “no hormones added” doesn’t really mean anything since their use is illegal in poultry to begin with.
HOW DO I SAFELY PREPARE YOUR PRODUCTS?
Chicken is easy to prepare. With some basic safe handling techniques, you can create wonderful meals for you and your family. Take a look at the cooking tips page of our website for tips on making sure your chicken stays fresh from store to table.
WHERE CAN I BUY SANDERSON FARMS PRODUCTS IN MY NEIGHBORHOOD?
Sanderson Farms products are sold in nearly every state across the country. Visit our store finder page to find a location near you.
HOW LONG IS IT SAFE TO KEEP YOUR PRODUCTS IN THE REFRIGERATOR OR FREEZER?
We recommend you keep fresh, uncooked poultry in the refrigerator for no more than two days to ensure maximum freshness. If you’re planning to freeze your chicken, you should do it immediately upon returning from your shopping trip. You can learn more about storage in the cooking tips section of our site.
WHAT’S THE SAFEST WAY TO DEFROST POULTRY?
When possible, thaw your frozen chicken in the refrigerator, never on the countertop. This generally takes about five hours per pound, so it’s good to plan ahead. If you’re in a hurry, you can immerse wrapped poultry in cold water. Be sure to change the water every half hour or so for effective thawing. You can also use the microwave, but watch the chicken carefully since the thinner portions tend to cook while the thicker sections are still thawing. Follow the microwave manufacturer’s recommendations regarding defrosting cycles for poultry. You can learn more about storage in the cooking tips section of our site.
DO YOU HAVE RECIPES?
You bet. Check out our recipe page for tons of great ideas.
DOES SANDERSON FARMS DISTRIBUTE A NEWSLETTER? IF SO, IS IT AVAILABLE ONLINE?
Yes, Sanderson Farms issues a quarterly newsletter, and it is available online. Visit news and media for more information.
WHERE CAN I GET MORE INFORMATION?
More industry information is available from The National Chicken Council at chickenroost.com.