Feature

What's the McRib made of, anyway?

Find out what's inside — if you dare

McDonalds' McRib inspires a cult-like obsession. Thankfully, though, it's only available for a limited time: If you knew about all the unpronounceable ingredients packed into it, you might think twice about wolfing down the sauce-drenched pork concoction. Think you can stomach what's inside? Read on.

How many ingredients are there?
At face value the sandwich consists of pork, onions, and pickle slices slathered in barbecue sauce and laid out on a bun. But the truth is, there are roughly 70 ingredients. UPDATE: Here's what the patty looks like before it's cooked. Yum!

(via Imgur)

The bun alone contains 34 ingredients, says Meredith Melnick at TIME. In addition to chemicals like ammonium sulfate and polysorbate 80, the most egregious may be azodicarbonamide — "a flour-bleaching agent most commonly used in the manufactur[ing] of foamed plastics like gym mats and the soles of shoes." According to McDonald's own ingredient list, the bun also includes calcium sulfate and ethoxylated mono- and diglycerides, among other chemicals.

So what's the meat made of?
Pig innards and plenty of salt. Typically, "restructured meat product" includes pig bits like tripe, heart, and scalded stomach, says Whet Moser at Chicago Magazine, citing a 1995 article by Robert Mandigo, a professor at the University of Nebraska. These parts are cooked and blended with salt and water to extract salt-soluble proteins, which act as a "glue" that helps bind the reshaped meat together.

Is it really that bad for you?
Well, it's certainly not great for you. Though "slightly trimmer than the Big Mac," which contains 540 calories and 29 grams of fat, says Christina Rexrode at USA Today, the McRib, first introduced in 1982, still packs in 500 calories and 26 grams of fat. And despite its name, one thing you won't find inside a McRib is bones. The absence of any detectable "rib" is what gives the unnutritious mush its "quirky sense of humor," says Marta Fearon, McDonald's U.S. marketing director.

Sources: Chicago Magazine, McDonald's, TIME, USA Today

This article — originally published on October 28, 2011 — was updated on November 14, 2013.

Recommended

The week's best parenting advice: June 28, 2022
A clock.
Parenting advice

The week's best parenting advice: June 28, 2022

6 excellent homes in Minneapolis
House
Feature

6 excellent homes in Minneapolis

The Week contest: Fire feet
Walking on coals.
Feature

The Week contest: Fire feet

6 luxurious homes in high-rises
House
Feature

6 luxurious homes in high-rises

Most Popular

Why isn't Lightyear taking off at the box office?
Lightyear.
Opinion

Why isn't Lightyear taking off at the box office?

John Oliver explains the causes and dire effects of the Western U.S. water crisis
John Oliver
Johnsplaining

John Oliver explains the causes and dire effects of the Western U.S. water crisis

Sen. Ron Johnson draws lawyer, Pa. congressman into fake electors plot
Sen. Ron Johnson
'just a delivery boy'

Sen. Ron Johnson draws lawyer, Pa. congressman into fake electors plot