Major Chicken Producer Sued After Hallucinogenics Found in Its “All Natural” Meat

Last week, Sanderson Farms—the third-largest chicken producer in the U.S.—was sued by three consumer groups over its claims that its chicken products are “100% natural.

The lawsuit, brought by the Organic Consumers Association, Friends of the Earth, and the Center for Food Safety, accuses the poultry producer of false advertising after the USDA detected synthetic drugs and antibiotics in samples of Sanderson Farms chicken products. Many of the antibiotics discovered in Sanderson’s chicken have FDA approval for human consumption only and are strictly prohibited for use in animals raised for food.

The USDA tests also found anesthetics, steroids, pesticides, and growth hormones, all of which are either not approved or explicitly banned in chicken production. Disturbingly, the tests also found ketamine, a painkiller and hallucinogen that goes by the street name “Special K. Ketamine is not approved by the FDA for use in poultry.

The lawsuit also alleges that Sanderson Farms misleadingly claims to be committed to animal welfare. The lawsuit asserts that the use of antibiotics and other drugs strongly suggests that the chickens are raised in filthy, overcrowded conditions. In fact, Sanderson Farms has been listed as one of the top six worst offenders of USDA poultry handling and slaughter guidelines.

This case highlights the fact that consumers are misled by an industry desperate to convince them that eating meat can be healthy or ethical. Nothing could be further from the truth. As many Mercy For Animals investigations have shown, chickens raised for meat are often unable to walk without extreme pain, and many die of dehydration at factory farms when they can’t reach water. Others die from heart attacks, organ failure, and other problems related to rapid growth.

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Sanderson Farms is not the only meat producer being taken to task for its claims of “natural products. Last year, Hormel Foods was sued for deceptively advertising its lunchmeats and bacon as “natural. Soon thereafter, an MFA undercover investigation revealed horrific, unnatural conditions and practices at a Hormel supplier, including mutilating piglets without pain relief and leaving sick and injured pigs to suffer without veterinary care.

A recent scandal involving two of the biggest meat producers in the world shocked consumers when it was revealed that these companies were boosting their profits by mixing cardboard into chicken meat, grinding pigs’ heads to use in sausage, and using chemicals to conceal the stench of rotting animal flesh.

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