The McRib is a sandwich periodically sold by the international fast-food restaurant chain McDonald’s. It was first introduced to the McDonald’s menu in 1981 as a limited-time item; then, as now, it returns to the menu for promotional periods.
Brad Tuttle of Moneyland reports that the McRib enjoys a bizarre cult following in part because of its impermanence. It has generated not only Facebook pages, but McRib Locator websites and a Twitter account.
The McRib consists of a ground pork patty, barbecue sauce, onions, and pickles served on a 5½ inch roll. Despite its name, the McRib is primarily composed of pork shoulder meat.
But the McRib has more than ground pork, bun, onions, and barbecue sauce. The sandwich has 70 ingredients (34 in the bun alone), including azodicarbonamide, ammonium sulfate and polysorbate 80 — whatever they are.
Meredith Melnick reports for Time, Oct. 27, 2011, that although these components are in small enough quantities to be (supposedly) innocuous, “it’s still a little disconcerting to know that, for example, azodicarbonamide, a flour-bleaching agent that is most commonly used in the manufacture of foamed plastics like in gym mats and the soles of shoes, is found in the McRib bun. The compound is banned in Europe and Australia as a food additive. (England’s Health and Safety Executive classified it as a “respiratory sensitizer” that potentially contributes to asthma through occupational exposure.) The U.S. limits azodicarbonamide to 45 parts per million in commercial flour products, based on analysis of lab testing.”
If azodicarbonamide doesn’t give you pause, here’s the “nutrition information” for the McRib (serving size 7.4 oz) from McDonald’s website:
- Calories: 500
- Calories from fat: 240 (i.e., half of a McRib’s calories are from fat!)
- Total fat (g): 26
- % of daily fat value: 40%
- Saturated fat (g): 10
- % of daily saturated fat value: 48%
- Cholesterol (mg): 70
- % of daily cholesterol value: 23%
- Sodium (mg): 980
- % of daily sodium value: 41%
- % of daily value of Vitamin A: 2%
- % of daily value of Vitamin C: 2%
- % of daily value of Calcium: 15%
- % of daily value of Iron: 20%