100% Natural

Frequently Asked Questions

The following are some of the most often used terms and what they really mean:

USDA 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.
More industry information is available from The National Chicken Council at chickenroost.com and chickencheck.in.
Yes, Sanderson Farms issues a quarterly newsletter, and it is available online. Visit news and media for more information.
You bet. Check out our recipe page for tons of great ideas.
Sanderson Farms products are sold in nearly every state across the country. Visit our store finder page to find a location near you.
The truth is, by law, all chickens must be clear of antibiotics before they leave the farm for harvest. So, all USDA inspected chicken you buy—no matter how it was raised—is, in fact, "antibiotic free".The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) extensively monitor and test the administration of all antibiotics in chickens, ensuring that any medicine is out of the chickens’ system before they leave the farm. That way, you know the chicken you’re getting at the supermarket is free of antibiotics.
Yes. All fresh, single ingredient chicken is gluten-free. Always be sure to look for any fine print that may mention added solutions, seasonings or coatings.
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.
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.
Chicken is easy to prepare. With some basic safe handling techniques, you can create wonderful meals for you and your family. And, as you’re out there grilling, rest assured that the chicken industry is prudently minding the farm, ensuring the continued good health of the chickens … and you. Properly cooking chicken at the right heat will always ensure your poultry is safe from bacteria. Just remember, for safe eating, boneless chicken should always be cooked to an internal temperature of at least 165 °F. For bone-in chicken, breasts should be cooked to 170 °F and whole chickens, thighs and wings should reach at least 180 °F. All juices should be clear. Make sure to measure the temperature with a food thermometer. Afterward, be sure to refrigerate any leftovers within two hours after cooking. Take a look at our other cooking tips to make sure your chicken stays fresh from store to table.
We utilize modern technology to maximize the wellbeing of our flocks and minimize discomfort and disease. If flocks require medication, our veterinarians make sure they receive timely treatment in accordance with FDA guidelines. Fact is, healthier chickens grow stronger faster, requiring fewer resources to grow to market weight. Sicker chickens simply need more of everything. 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. For more information on our sustainability efforts, read about our Corporate Responsibility Program.
In reality, very few antibiotics used in human medicine are actually approved by the FDA for use in chickens. As of January 2017, human-used antibiotics may only be used on chickens to address disease and sickness. These antibiotics must be administered under the exclusive supervision and prescription of a veterinarian in accordance with FDA guidelines. What's more, the FDA guidelines ensures any medicine has completely cleared the chicken's system before they leave the farm. Veterinary oversight has been our standard practice years before this law was written. These industry and governmental restrictions on the use of the human-used antibiotics is part of an ongoing effort to limit bacteria from becoming resistant to antibiotics, which is actually an ongoing genetic phenomenon in nature. In fact, it is not uncommon for bacteria to be resistant to multiple antibiotics. While some have theorized a "superbug" could somehow be formed from food animal antibiotic use, the FDA refuted this notion, stating, "it is inaccurate and alarmist to define bacteria resistant to one, or even a few, antibiotics as 'Superbugs' if these same bacteria are still treatable by other commonly used antibiotics." Rest assured, everyone in the chicken industry have the same vested interest in preserving the effectiveness of our human antibiotics. After all, they protect our families too. That's why we use antibiotics with the utmost care and oversight, looking out for the best health of all in our communities.
In reality, the opposite is frequently true. Farms that market chickens or other animals as "raised without antibiotics" often have animals suffering from diseases, many of which are debilitating and even fatal if left untreated. Producers charge a premium for meat "raised without antibiotics" and in some cases may be hesitant to provide treatment to diseased birds, particularly if they are close to market weight, in order to not forfeit the "raised without antibiotics" label. Farms that use the benefit of antibiotics seek to limit such disease and suffering from occurring in the first place. In fact, one of the most prominent diseases among chickens is clostridial enteritis, a debilitating intestinal condition that is sometimes fatal. Antibiotics are the best proven method to treat and cure enteritis. Failure to stop this disease with antibiotics subjects the birds to the possibility of dehydration, loss of appetite, diarrhea, and rapid, painful death. Click here to see Sanderson Farms' Policy on Animal Welfare and Antibiotic Use.
The truth is, none of the chicken you buy in a store is raised in a cage. We exercise all measures to be sure our flocks are provided the best possible care. Chickens are raised in a spacious, 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 a short distance from the farm to the processing plant.
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. Our number one priority is serving people chicken that is delicious, high quality and safe to eat. Ensuring our birds are healthy and comfortable is the best way we do that. Our veterinary staff ratio to number of chickens is one of the best in the industry, and the veterinary oath they have taken promises to provide the best animal care possible, while also protecting humans. Click to see a day in the life and here to see how we grow our chickens.
Our animal welfare 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 our 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).

All Sanderson Farms personnel involved with live animals have been trained in specific animal caretaking for their role, from placing baby chicks on a farm to preparing the broilers for harvest.

Click here to see Sanderson Farms' Policy on Animal Welfare
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.

If there is an issue with any of the chicken you have purchased, we'd like to learn more so we can address it directly at the plant. Please call us at 1-800-391-0690 or email us here.
Absolutely not. The use or administration of hormones or steroids in chicken production is strictly prohibited by the USDA. The only hormones found in our chickens are those that occur naturally. Just like they do in any living plant or animal.

Here's a great link that debunks the myths surrounding hormone use in poultry.

Chickens are not fed hormones! Here are 7 Reasons Why.
No. Antibiotics are NOT steroids or growth hormones. Antibiotics are used to treat disease in chickens and keep them healthy—our moral obligation to the animals in our care. By humanely ensuring their health, these birds grow to their full potential 100% naturally.
Yes. The responsible use of antibiotics is something that we take very seriously. All antibiotics are given by the order of our on staff veterinarians for the benefit of the flocks’ health, which is the first step in judicious antibiotic use in food animals. After deliberate and careful consideration, we do not plan to withdraw antibiotics from our program at this time. There are three main reasons:

1) Food Safety: 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. For further explanation, see questions under Food Safety & More.

2) Animal Welfare: We have a moral obligation to take care of the animals in our care. While we utilize good poultry husbandry and best live management practices to minimize the need for antibiotics, sometimes disease challenges arise within our flocks. For further explanation, see questions under Animal & Human Welfare.

3) Sustainability and Environmental Responsibility: Sick chickens do not grow well, that means they need more food, water, and time to grow. Given the number of farm animals raised for food in the United States, even small reductions in live animal growth could have a significant environmental impact. For further explanation, see questions under Animal & Human Welfare. Or, see here for additional information from Elanco.

We have an obligation to our customers and consumers, the animals under our care, and to future generations to produce safe, delicious chicken in a humane, sustainable and environmentally responsible way. 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.
No, our chickens are not genetically modified. Just like farmers have done for centuries, modern breeding farms mate the healthiest and strongest birds to produce a stronger line of offspring, but they are not genetically modified. Some people are concerned about today's chickens being cloned or mutated to have extra wings and legs. That is simply not possible.

Please refer to the question, WHAT DO YOU FEED YOUR CHICKEN, to learn about genetically modified organism (GMO) use in the chicken industry.
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. Because more than 90% of the corn and 80% of the soybeans grown in the US are raised from genetically modified seeds, most conventional animal feeds contain GMO grains. Unlike many organic grains, 100% of the grains (corn and soybean meal) used to feed our chickens are grown, harvested and processed in the United States.

Please visit this link to learn about genetically modified organism (GMO) use in the chicken industry.
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.
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.
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 whole chicken, just like all of our products, is 100% natural and raised with the standards set forth by the National Chicken Council. For more information on what WE mean when we say 100% Natural, see here.
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