Sunday, November 06, 2011

The SHOCKING Ingredients in a McRib Sandwich

The older I get, the more likely I am to just eat at home so I have greater control over the ingredients that go into my food. These days, the ingredients that go into some foods are downright shocking.

Just so people do not think I am only picking on vegetables, take McDonald’s McRib sandwich, which is recently making its way onto menus nationwide again and has gained a lot of media attention. I remember this sandwich many years ago and bought one. It tasted good but when I ate it, I had no idea what the ingredients were besides assuming it was rub meat. So, before buying one this time around, I looked into the ingredients posted on the McDonald’s website and report my finding below.

First, let’s start with the meat. Technically it is made of pork, but it is a "restructured meat product." This means you are not getting a pure cut of meat. You are getting a bunch of different parts mixed together, which reportedly includes pig heart and pig stomach. The meat also contains water, salt, dextrose (a type of sugar), citric acid (a natural preservative), and…

  1. Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA): This is a preservative in food, but is also used as a preservative for food packaging, animal feed, rubber, cosmetics, and petroleum products. The National Institute of Health has listed it as a likely carcinogen, meaning that it likely causes cancer, especially in high doses with some experimental animals. In mice, it is not known to cause cancer and may even protect against cancer from other chemicals. In humans, it is not known to cause cancer when consumed in low levels. Nevertheless, California considers it a recognized carcinogen and a suspected toxin to the endocrine system, gastrointenstinal system, liver, immune system, nervous system, respiratory system, skin, and sense organs.
  1. Propyl gallate: A food preservative also used in cosmetics, adhesives (glues), lubricants, and hair products. Some rat studies have found that it may cause cancer. It can irritate the stomach and skin, cause allergic reactions that affect breathing, and cause liver and kidney problems. Some countries have banned it or only allow limited use of it.
II. The bun actually has the most ingredients. Of these, the most concerning are:

1.   Azodicarbonamide: A synthetic chemical, which is used as a food additive to flour to improving baking functionality. However, its main use is actually as an additive to make foamed plastics. It is banned as a food additive in Australia and Europe as a precaution due to unknown health effects in humans.

  1. Ammonium sulfate: This is a type of salt that is most commonly used as a soil fertilizer, explosives, and as a flame retardant.
  1. Calcium propionate: This is used to inhibit mold growth. When infused directly into rats, it causes reversible neurological changes in behavior and brain functioning.
III. The sauce contains mostly natural ingredients but does contain:

    1. Sodium benzoate: A food preservative that has been inconsistently associated with hyperactivity and is theorized to cause cell malfunction. In response to health concerns, the Coca Cola company is phasing it out of Diet Coke and some of its other beverages.
IV: The pickles contain natural ingredients but also contain:

1. Polysorbate 80: This is an emulsifier, which is a substance that allows foods to mix together. It is often used in ice cream but is also used in eye drops, to dilute flu vaccines, to stabilize for certain liquid medications, in tuberculosis cultures, and as an emulsifier for a cardiac medication (i.e., amiodarone) that stabilizes the heart beat.

My basic rule is that if I can’t pronounce the ingredients in my food, I try to stay away from it. I’m not perfect yet at applying that rule, but I’m paying more and more attention. However, if I want ribs, I definitely go to a genuine rib joint.

Suggested reading: McDonald's: Behind The Arches

Related blog entry: The SHOCKING Ingredients in a Mountain Dew.


  1. Anonymous6:22 AM

    I dig the McRib, in all of its mediocre glory.

  2. THe McRib is awesome

  3. America should ban that disgusting food, as well as the rest of McDonalds and similar franchises. Give me organic!


Your comments are welcome.