If you somehow missed the giant marketing campaign currently underway, let me be the first to tell/warn you: McRib is back. Much has been written about the rabid McRib fans who create tracking websites to log sightings and drive hundreds of miles for their favorite food.
Given the McRib’s ingredients and nutritional content, it comes as no surprise that some people have raised an eyebrow or two at the high sodium content (980 mg, or 41% of the RDA) and all the mysterious chemicals that make up the sandwich. As just one example, take azodicarbonamide, which Time magazine notes is “a flour-bleaching agent that is most commonly used in the manufacture of foamed plastics like in gym mats and the soles of shoes, is found in the McRib bun.” Yummy. (For some of McRib’s food-science history, check out this post from NPR.)
The Humane Society of the United States recently filed an SEC complaint against Smithfield Farms, Mickey D’s major pork supplier. The complaint alleges that while Smithfield is busily promoting “how our environmental and animal handling sustainability practices work every day,” the facts are entirely to the contrary. HSUS investigators report finding pigs living under extreme confinement, suffering from open wounds caused by their living conditions, being brutally handled by employees, and at times being left to die in dumpsters and manure pits.
No doubt the timing of the Humane Society’s complaint is meant to provide a counter to the McRib promotional campaign and provide some pressure on McDonald’s to force Smithfield to change it’s ways. Such efforts seem to have yielded some success in the past (check out these reports from American RadioWorks in 2002), so kudos to the Humane Society for keeping up the pressure.