McDonald's McRib sandwich has kind of a cult following, like Phish if they were only around for like a month every year instead of seemingly forever. And like Phish, it is jam-packed with synthetic ingredients. (I kid, I kid. I'm sure all of Phish's enhancement is purely herbal.) For instance, one of the bun ingredients is azodicarbonamide, which Time describes as "a flour-bleaching agent that is most commonly used in the manufacture of foamed plastics like in gym mats and the soles of shoes."
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.
Now, in the concentrations found in a McRib, azodicarbonamide probably won't hurt you. Nor will its buddies, ammonium sulfate and polysorbate 80, or any of the other 70-plus ingredients that go into the sandwich. And to be fair, if you break down almost anything, you can find a component that sounds a little startling. I mean, my dinner last night was Swiss chard, squash, and chicken sausage, but it still contained sodium (a caustic metal!!) and chlorine (a poison gas!!), on account of I put salt on it.
However: Dude, there are over 70 ingredients in this supposed "rib" "sandwich"! That's ingredients listed on the website, not ingredients that some whole-foods advocate ginned up to sound worse than they are. And one of them's also an ingredient in SHOES. That has to give you pause.
Still, if you absolutely must have a McRib, at least it won't stick around long enough for you to eat two. I never thought I'd say these words, but thanks for that, McDonald's.
Why Lovin' the McRib Isn't Heart Smart, Time.