Exploring the sense and nonsense of food and health

Thoughts on the McRib

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Photo of McDonald's McRib.

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McDonalds has big signs announcing the comeback of the “delicious” McRib pork sandwich (like everyone will be thrilled to have another?)

Here are some facts that McDonalds may not want you to know:

McDonalds buys its pork from Smithfield Foods.  Smithfield employs animal behaviorist Temple Grandin as an animal welfare advisor which allows McDonalds to market itself as committed to animal welfare and care.

I have read of Temple Grandin and highly respect her work as an animal welfare advocate.  From her website:

“Dr. Grandin is a designer of livestock handling facilities and a Professor of Animal Science at Colorado State University. Her areas of research are: cattle temperament, environmental enrichment for pigs, reducing dark cutters and bruises, bull fertility, training procedures, and effective stunning methods for cattle and pigs at meat plants.”

In her work for Smithfield, Dr. Grandin declared that gestation crates for pigs “had to go” and in 2007, Smithfield agreed to phase them out by 2017.  Since then, the company has gone back on its promise.  The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) in an undercover operation last year discovered that Smithfield is misleading the pubic about its welfare practices.  From their report: female pigs were stuffed into gestation crates, preventing movement most of their lives; the pigs were shot in the head with a bolt gun and dumped in a dumpster while still alive; tail docking took place without anesthesia and employees tossed baby pigs into carts like lifeless animals.

Meanwhile, McDonalds so appreciated the Smithfield practices that they recently recognized Smithfield with a “supplier sustainability” award.  At about the same time, HSUS filed a legal complaint with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission about the cruel Smithfield practices.

There are other problems with the McRib.  Recent reports in the media have not only reported McDonald’s recent return of the McRib which encourages these horrendous animal welfare practices, but also have discovered how the McRib is manufactured.  You didn’t think it was real ribs, did you? In an article by Whet Moser in Chicago Magazine – here is his quote from McRib co-developer, Roger Mandigo.

“Restructured meat products are commonly manufactured by using lower-valued meat trimmings reduced in size by comminution (flaking, chunking, grinding, chopping of slicing).  The comminuted meat mixture is mixed with salt and water to extract salt-soluble proteins.  These extracted proteins are critical to produce a ”glue” which binds muscle pieces together.  These muscle pieces may then be reformed to produce a “meat log” of specific form or shape.  The log is then cut into steaks or chops which, when cooked, are similar in appearance and texture to their intact muscle counterparts.”

This negative publicity – finally eposes the true nature of the McRib – and along with the way McDonald’s condones the practices of its pork supplier, may be the final death knell on the McRib.  Let’s hope so.

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