McRib Sandwich Release Date Dec. 17; Why Does ‘Restructured Meat Technology’ Taste So Good?


December 18, 2012 1:07 PM EST | By Mo Mozuch
The more you know, the less you want one. (Photo: Reuters)

Oh, McRib. How am I terrified of my love for thee? Let me count the ways ...

The McRib Sandwich is coming back to McDonald's on December 17th. The sandwich is a bit of a cult phenomenon and, like any good cult, requires some willful blindness on the part of its devotees (myself, shamefully included). See, the McRib sandwich is not a rib. Anyone who's ever had one knows there are no bones inside the rib shaped patty. It's just processed pork, right? Just like a hamburger someone just ground up some tasty pork and made it into a patty full of delicious, bombtastic porky goodness.

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Well, tasty pork and YOGA MATS?

Yeah, Business Insider dropped some serious truth bombs about the processed pork wonder. One of the less savory details of the McRib sandwich is its 70 ingredient 'recipe.' (Although formula would probably be more appropriate.) One of the ingredients is azodicarbonamide, a flour-bleaching agent used in the bun that's more commonly used to make foam plastics, like yoga mats and shoes. It's banned in Europe and Australia as a food additive, so they miss out on the McRib sandwich. Sure, it's been labeled a "respiratory sensitizer" that may contribute to the development of asthma, but has anyone done a study on how happy you'll be wolfing down McRib sandwich bites between inhaler puffs?

After all, the secret to the McRib sandwich is really in the (processed) meat not the (34+ chemical additives in the) bun. The patty is an appetizingly named 'restructured meat product' made from tripe, heart and scalded stomach. The trimmings are mixed with salt and water in such a way that the proteins in the pork trimmings start to bind and can be formed into the distinctive McRib sandwich shape. The guy who invented the technology to do this, Roger Mandingo, was inducted into the Meat industry Hall of Fame. Props.

(Before you go all "tripe, heart and stomach ... BLECH" I feel I should point out that most of the 20 billion hot dogs consumed in the U.S. each year undergo similar processing.)

Ok, so maybe it's made of some yoga mat materials and the pork is basically the stuff normally sent to the trashcan, but it's not like the McRib sandwich is evil or anything right?


The Humane Society did an expose on pork supplier Smithfield Foods and found quite a number of abuses being committed against the pigs destined for McRib sandwiches (among other places). If you're really in the mood to feel nauseous and experience some serious animal guilt, then watch this disturbing, graphic undercover video.

McDonald's, obviously, doesn't want you to think too hard about these things. Especially because the McRib sandwich is essentially a commodities-trading maneuver that exists to exploit pork when it reaches bottom barrel prices, and McDonald's likes to make lots and lots of money on it.

So, instead, the company offers up 101 reasons to enjoy a McRib sandwich on it's website.  Like what? See reason number 9.

"YOLO - They say you only live once. Don't you think you owe that life as much taste as possible?"

And that does it for me. Sorry, McRib sandwich. I could abide the azodicarbonamide, the tripe trimmings and the tortured pigs. But I cannot, in good conscience, support any aspect of YOLO Swag.

© 2012 Food & Recipe All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.

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