5 Disturbing McRib Facts: Nutrition, Ingredients, and Animal Cruelty

Updated on January 25, 2018
The McRib is back, but are we sure that's a good thing?
The McRib is back, but are we sure that's a good thing?

5 Disturbing Facts About McDonald's McRib Sandwich

The McDonald's McRib is back! These words are shouted out by fans of the sandwich every year when it makes its lauded and often controversial return to the McDonald's menu. Many people actively look forward to seeing the McRib return, but how much do they really know about their beloved fast food sandwich?

The more you look into the story of what the sandwich is made of and what exactly goes into getting it to you, the less delicious it becomes. I hope we don't spoil your appetite, but if we do, don't shoot the messenger.

1. McRib Nutrition Facts Make You Want a McSalad

The nutrition facts are downright frightening. According to McDonald's own website, not only does the sandwich contain a whopping 500 calories—meaning you are getting 1/4 of your daily calories in one sandwich if you're on a standard 2000-calorie diet—it also has 240 calories from fat. Sure, you knew it wasn't good for you, but were you aware of just how bad for you it really is?

McRib Health Facts

26 grams (40% DV)
Saturated Fat
10 grams (roughly 50% DV)
70 mg (23% DV)
980 mg (41% DV)
11 grams
DV=daily value

2. McRib Meat Is Not What You Think

McDonald's admits that their sandwich is not made from rib meat, in spite of its name. How this doesn't fall under false advertising and labeling we're not sure, but somehow, they get away with it.

McDonald's claims that the sandwich is composed primarily of shoulder meat. Turns out, the truth is much less appetizing. Chicago Magazine broke the story that the ingredients actually consist of restructured meat products like heart, tripe, and scalded stomach.

The McHeart, McTripe, and McScaldedStomach just don't have the same ring, do they? Unfortunately, all three of those names would be more accurate than "the McRib."

3. Weird McRib Ingredients Are Used in Yoga Mats and Shoes

If you thought tripe, scalded stomach, and heart sounded bad. Wait until you hear about some of the other ingredients.

The sandwich has around 70 different ingredients and one that is particularly worrisome. That ingredient is a food additive called azodicarbonamide. This means that McAzodicarbonamide is also a more accurate name for the sandwich. Azodicarbonamide is a flour-bleaching agent which, when not finding itself in McRib buns, inhabits gym mats, yoga mats, and the soles of shoes. Yum!

Azodicarbonamide is banned in Australia and Europe and is considered by England's Health and Safety Executive to be a respiratory sensitizer, possibly contributing to asthma through occupational exposure. The sandwich also contains ammonium sulfate and polysorbate 80.

4. McRib Hidden Ingredient: Animal Cruelty

The tripe, stomach, and heart meat for the sandwich come from a supplier called Smithfield Foods. Smithfield Foods is the world's largest pork producer and processor. Unfortunately, they also have some more dubious credits to their name, like a horrible environmental and animal welfare track record.

The Humane Society of the United States has filed a complaint with the Security and Exchange Commission over the treatment of their animals, claiming they made false claims about their animal welfare initiatives, as well as their environmental initiatives.

The allegations include keeping breeding sows in gestation crates (which restricts movement for the animal's entire life), as well as subjecting animals to tooth extraction, castration, and tail trimming without painkillers.

5. McRibs Are Available Year-Round in Germany

Finally, here's one for those of you who aren't put-off by poor nutrition facts, gross ingredients, or the inhumane treatment of animals and still say, "Give me a McRib before they disappear from the McDonald's menu again!"

If you lived in Germany, you wouldn't have to worry about getting one before they are all gone. That's because in Germany, where the sandwich is even more popular than in the United States, they are served year-round.

What a McRib looks like when it's frozen.
What a McRib looks like when it's frozen.

Bonus: An Insider's Look

Bonus: Here's what the frozen McRib looks like. This picture of the frozen "meat" appears to have been taken and leaked by a McDonald's employee. Doesn't look too appetizing in its pre-cooked condition, does it?

Still Hungry?

So, is anyone still hungry or have I killed your appetite? Do you now think the McRib is gross or did you always find it gross and not worth eating? Perhaps all the nutrition facts, animal cruelty descriptions, and weird ingredients didn't phase you. Let me know which type of person you are in the poll below, and feel free to sound off about the McRib facts detailed above in the comments section.

McRib Poll

Do these facts make you any less likely to eat a McDonald's McRib sandwich in the future?

See results


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    • profile image

      Jack 4 years ago

      McNasty is right...

    • Michael Durden profile image

      Michael Durden 4 years ago

      Thank you for your comment, Chris.

      - Tripe and heart, like any other, healthy organs, can be eaten, but it is rather interesting that they are advertising them as McRibs, in spite of the fact that they contain more meat from other parts. I'd imagine a bowl of scalded stomach isn't a big delicacy anywhere, but I could be wrong. Either way, there's definitely a reason they are advertising it as McRib and not by those other meats, and that's because rib meat is considered more of a delicacy in its target countries (especially America) than the actual main ingredients.

      - The fact remains that Azodicarbonamide is a respiratory sensitizer and is therefore banned in Australia and Europe. The use of that product in Singapore can lead to a lengthy jail sentence. You are free to eat as much of it as you want to in America. Have at it.

      - This article is about the McRib, not about WeightWatchers or HealthyOnes. But yes, Smithfields is used in many products. They are a huge pork supplier.

    • profile image

      Chris Vaiana 5 years ago from New York, New York

      Reading this because I just finished a McRib...I wouldn't advocate frequent fast food consumption in general HOWEVER

      -The organs like tripe and heart are delicasies in many cultures, and are rich in protein and vitamins (similar to eating a healthy liver-and-onions). My dad gets a bowl of tripe soup every chance he gets

      -Azodicarbonamide undergoes a reaction with flour in the food making process, and converts almost entirely to "biurea" - similar to urea, a toxin that we naturally produce and excrete pretty easliy

      - Knocking Smithfields is fine as long as you knock their other brands such as WeightWatchers and HealthyOnes

      I'd bet the biggest problem w the McRib is the amount of sugar in the "BBQ sauce" that gives it its (IMO) tangy deliciousness, and high caloric content. Although a picturesque description of how meat is reconstructed is probably enough to ward off many McRibbers. Cheers!

    • profile image

      greg j 5 years ago

      I thought they were good , a novelty type curiosity , but never again ! Thank you very informative .

    • profile image

      Rommel 5 years ago

      One of my daughters, became ill, from eating one of this mcrib, deals, she was ill for about two days n a half, she refused to complaini did as her father talked to franchise owner here in el paso, tx, he stated propbaly a rash reaction i said no, my daughter said let it go, ok but no apology nor remorse from this guy.

    • profile image

      Boner 5 years ago

      Mmmm, cat...

    • Michael Durden profile image

      Michael Durden 6 years ago

      Eh, I don't know about that, brandon. There is such a thing as good and bad calories. Or, rather, calories that come with nutrients and vitamins versus those that come with a ton of sodium, cholesterol, and dangerous additives.

    • profile image

      brandon 6 years ago

      ^or maybe it's only banned in west Europe

      damn, now i am hungry... i knew i shouldn't have read this.... off to McDonald's i go...

      500 calories is a good thing unless you're a lazy ba$tard that doesn't get any exercise

    • profile image

      TGugs 6 years ago

      I've just ordered 5 of the McRib... Ummm. Is the angus beef from certified cow anus?

    • Michael Durden profile image

      Michael Durden 6 years ago

      That's a good question. My guess is they just use another flour bleaching agent, but I'm not positive.

    • profile image

      Hmmmm 6 years ago

      Can you explain how in Germany they can sell the McRib if Azodicarbonamide is banned in Europe. If it is not in their version of McRib, what is?

    • profile image

      Mcnasty!!! 6 years ago

      I just ate one and I seriously want to cry now haha.... That BBQ sauce was tempting

    • breakfastpop profile image

      breakfastpop 6 years ago

      Ugh and thank you. I won't be eating a McRib ever. This is a great service you are performing. What else can you tell us about what we are eating? Up interesting, useful and awesome.

    • SmartAndFun profile image

      SmartAndFun 6 years ago from Texas

      LOL, love the title, Michael. You wouldn't think something as insignificant as a sandwich could be disturbing, but yes, this sandwich is disturbing. Even if a person isn't bothered by low-grade ingredients and animal cruelty, there's also the fact that McRibs are just plain gross. Anyone who thinks a McRib tastes good needs to come to Texas for some real BBQ! Great hub!

    • Michael Durden profile image

      Michael Durden 6 years ago

      Thank you for your comment, Colin. I am confused at your first sentence in relation to the rest of your comment though. They are in opposition.

      Anyway, internal pig organs may be technically safe to eat - I'd argue the nutrition bit - but that doesn't mean I want to eat them. Squirrel, cat and possum are okay to eat too but I don't want to eat those. Everyone should choose for themselves what kind of meat they eat, but they should at least know what they are getting beforehand. That was my issue with calling a sandwich without rib meat the "McRib."

    • profile image

      colin l 6 years ago

      i'm morally and physically opposed to this sandwich. i'm not here to start an argument, but i urge you and your readers to keep an open mind. pork heart, pork stomach, tripe, or whatever internal organs the pig has are very safe to eat and nutritious. stop wasting food!

    • Michael Durden profile image

      Michael Durden 6 years ago

      Thanks for the comments, Alecia and Judy. I'm glad you both found this article informative.

    • profile image

      Judy Johnston 6 years ago

      I used to love the McRib....no more !! I suppose our government sees nothing wrng with it,I am not inclined to agree,,,my taste buds are no longer craving a Mcrib. Thanks for the enghtening . IT IS FALSE ADVERTISING TO THE MAX

    • Alecia Murphy profile image

      Alecia Murphy 6 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      I always thought it was really the McNasty. Once in high school I had a free coupon for a sandwich and ordered a grilled chicken sandwich and I got a McRib instead. I didn't eat it and I'm very glad I didn't. Interesting and scary hub!

    • Michael Durden profile image

      Michael Durden 6 years ago

      Thanks, hush. Glad it was informative for you.

      I think so many additives are banned in other countries but not here because over the past few decades we have had more and more deregulation in this country. That means companies get to do what they want more often, even when it isn't in the public's best interest. This is but one small example.

    • hush4444 profile image

      hush4444 6 years ago from Hawaii

      Very interesting hub. Why is it that so many harmful food additives are banned in other countries but deemed safe in the US? Scary. Thanks for the eye-opener!

    • Michael Durden profile image

      Michael Durden 6 years ago

      You're welcome, drbj, and thank you for the comment.

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 6 years ago from south Florida

      I once ate a McRib and it WAS tasty. Now, fuhgeddaboudit. Heart, tripe, stomach and other less desirable fillers? No way. Thanks for this eye-opener, Michael. Just say No to McRib.