What’s in a McRib? Unwrapping McDonalds’ Boneless Rib-Shaped Sandwich

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Looks like a simple sandwich, right? Think again, it has over 70 ingredients. Photo by: Evan-Amos

It’s back – the McRib is on sale again, and many people are “lovin’ it.”

Have you tried it? If not, McDonald’s gives you 100 reasons why you should try the McRib, ranging from “sticks to your ribs” to new pickup lines for guys – but I’ll give you three reasons why you may want to skip this sandwich.

You may think the worst part of the sandwich is in a fake-looking pre-molded slab of ‘ribs,’ but you are in for a surprise.

McRib Ingredients: Chemicals are #1 Reason to Avoid This Sandwich

Between the bun, patty, and the sauce, this sandwich has more than 70 ingredients, and most of these ingredients come from the bun!

Azodicarbonamide is a food additive that’s banned in Europe and Australia – it has been shown to cause asthma and skin irritation, and is considered to be a risk to human life by the World Health Organization. Azodicarbonamide is limited in flour products to 45 parts per million in the US, and can also be found in yoga and gym mats and soles of shoes. (Yum!)

Ammonium sulfate is used in the McRib bun as well – and is also in fire extinguisher powder and flame-proofing agents, according to the International Plant Nutrition Institute.

Restructured Meat in the McRib?

So how does the McRib get its shape? It could be coming from ‘restructured meat.’ According to the Nebraska State Historical Society, “In 1972 Professor Roger Mandingo of the University of Nebraska received a grant from the National Pork Producers Council to work on a process to create restructured meats. He developed a technology to bind small pieces of meat together in different shapes using salt and mechanical action. The results of his work can be seen today in such items as dinosaur-shaped chicken nuggets and the famous McRib” Sandwich.”

Restructured meat contains tripe (part of the stomach of farm animals), heart, and scalded stomach, which are mixed in with water and salt to extract proteins from the muscles. These proteins bind everything together so that it can be molded into any shape, such as the riblike shape of the McRib.

However, there seems to be some disagreement whether or not the pork in the McRib is actually made from restructured meat.

Tyler Litchenberger of McDonalds told Decoded Science, “The McRib absolutely does not contain “restructured meat” … but is made from simple ground pork. No tripe, heart, stomach, offal or similar parts are used.” Maxim also reports the process of making the McRib, and the fake slab of ribs doesn’t appear to include anything unusual.

Is the ‘Restructured Meat’ story is just another urban legend, or is this unusual meat-processing technique part of the McRib’s history? Mr. Litchenberger has promised additional information, and we’ll update this article as it comes in.

Click to Read Page Two: McRib Nutrition

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© Copyright 2013 Janelle Vaesa, MPH, All rights Reserved. Written For: Decoded Science
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