Diets in Review - Find the Right Diet for You

The Real Origins of the McRib Sandwich

McRib pigThe McRib sandwich from McDonald’s is a strange product of the food science world: fake “ribs” molded out of mystery pork and drowning in sauce. First McDonald’s created the “Boneless Pig Farmers Association of America” spoof. Now, the fast food chain is running a campaign to get customers to submit a video with a “legendary” creation story of the McRib sandwich. The winner will receive $10,000 dollars and a trip to Germany. The fact that McDonald’s is making fun of the nebulous origins of its food is borderline offensive to anyone who would like there to be some transparency in our food chain.

Well, OK, McDonald’s, we’ll tell you where the McRib comes from: an enormous factory farm. A giant shed with a floor covered in feces, where tens of thousands of pigs will be born without ever having enough space to turn around in and most will never see daylight. Let’s remember that, unlike a chicken, a pig has fairly advanced mental capacities, much like your pet dog. Because these pigs live in such tight quarters, they tend to develop bizarre behaviors due to stress. The animals, taken away from their mothers shortly after birth, nibble on each other’s tails because they are not allowed to wean. The pig having its tail nibbled is too apathetic to fight or object, but the chewed tails are likely to be infected. The solution? All the pigs get their tails cut off at birth. I’ll spare you a description of a slaughter. A typical slaughterhouse kills up to 1,100 pigs per hour, according to PETA.

McRibLet’s consider the meat itself. Is it really meat from the rib? No. “Primar­ily, it’s shoulder meat,” explains Rob Cannell, director of McDonald’s U.S. supply chain in a 2009 interview. “The McRib is made in large processing plants—lots of stainless steel, a number of production lines, and these long cryogenic freezers. The pork meat is chopped up, then seasoned, then formed into that shape that looks like a rib back. Then we flash-freeze it. The whole process from fresh pork to frozen McRib takes about 45 minutes.”

McRib MeatTranslation: mechanically separated meat. Remember the pink goo chicken nuggets are made from? It’s the piggy version. Just check out the two photos of the grayish meat inside the “rib patty” snapped by the team at The texture looks like something that’s been chewed up and spit out.

I’ll conclude this story of origins with a few nutritional facts, which of course you can find via McDonald’s website, although they bury it in a downloadable PDF. A single McRib sandwich contains 490 calories, 220 calories from fat. The sauce contains high fructose corn syrup. In addition to pork, the “McRib patty” also contains salt, dextrose, citric acid, butylated hydroxyanisole, and TBHQ, which in high doses is a carcinogen.

For more information about factory farms, please refer to Michael Pollen’s book, The Omnivore’s Dilemma.

Also Read:

The McRib Sandwich Is Back at McDonald’s

Chicken Nuggets: Made from Pink Goo

What Keeps a McDonald’s Burger from Rotting

November 5th, 2010

> Leave Feedback

User Feedback

(Page 1 of 1, 13 total comments)


It's made from a pig? I thought they congealed barbecue sauce into gelatin to form it.

For personal, non-religious reasons, I avoid most pork, this included, but I was curious what was in it. The fact that it's essentially the pork equivalent of a chicken nugget shouldn't surprise or disgust anyone who was willing to eat processed meat to begin with.

The reality is, no matter what you're discussing, choosing words carefully can make it sound disgusting. Everything you eat is either a mass of mutilated dead tissue, or in the few exceptions like yogurt, "crawling" with live microorganisms.

posted Mar 3rd, 2011 1:49 pm

Mike B

I belong to PETA and PROUD OF IT! .....

People Eating Tasty Animals

posted Jan 24th, 2011 6:06 pm


Anybody that takes PETA seriously is naive. PETA should be asked for proof for anything they represent as fact. I grew up on a farm and pigs were filty animals. We used to have to nurse the piglets that were squashed by the sows.

posted Jan 21st, 2011 12:51 am

bridgette plows

I knew there was a reason that I boycott McD's...

posted Dec 5th, 2010 7:59 am


And I love every bite of those tasty fake rib burgers!

posted Nov 11th, 2010 3:16 am

animals r delicious

bought a McRib today, then threw it away. I'll sleep great tonight knowing a PIG died for it!

posted Nov 11th, 2010 3:07 am


Thanks. I'm now inspired to order 3 or 4 this week just to spite all you food nazi's out there.

posted Nov 10th, 2010 4:20 pm


Tree Huggers .

posted Nov 9th, 2010 8:56 pm


The otherside to a pig not being raised in confinement as described in the article, is that they wallow in pools of there own fecies mixed with mud. They are exposed to elements, both extreme heat and cold. Their babies sometimes; are crushed when the sow rolls over on them, freeze to death when born in the elements during a cold snap, and sometimes the mother becomes cannibalistic and eats them. The progression of modern agriculture has promoted a safer and healthier environment for the animal.

posted Nov 9th, 2010 2:23 am


Not to overly defend McDonalds but pork shoulder that is cut up finely is not really that gross at all. Do you like pulled pork sandwiches? That is pretty much the same thing, shredded meat made from pork shoulder. Also you should really be giving sources for your claims especially in relation to the farms that produce the pork. It probably is true but without actual sources it comes off looking like a rant without fact.

posted Nov 8th, 2010 4:55 am


Thank you for the propaganda - I for one LOVE the McRib sandwich and will continue to eat them as much as possible. As always, I ask the question: is there a humane way to KILL an animal? That's the whole point...

posted Nov 6th, 2010 10:10 pm

Brian C

so nasty!

posted Nov 6th, 2010 4:09 pm


Very well written.

As if I weren't already avoiding this sandwich like the plague, now I'm completely horrified for the people who are eating it. I heard about a tweet-up today where people all got together to eat them. Shame on McDonald's for not only making this, but so proudly promoting it and even making fun of the, as Jillian Michaels would say, "Frankenfood" quality of this science lab creation.

posted Nov 5th, 2010 11:51 pm


Leave Feedback

Skip the moderation queue by becoming a MyDIR member.

Already a member?

Need to sign up?
It’s free and only it takes a minute.
There are two ways to join:

Or, proceed without an account