Sunday, January 6, 2013

Restructured Meat Technology

McDonald's McRib Back for Christmas (ABC News)
So, I'm sick with a cold.  Yesterday I spent pretty much all day in bed sleeping off the fever, which is really saying something, because normally I couldn't spend most of a day in bed even if I wanted to.  Today I am up and about, but I figure between taking a shower and making dinner my limited energy is accounted for.  None of that is post inspiring, but I was thinking about something the kids and I stumbled onto the other day while surfing the net together, don't ask me how we ended up where we did, because I could begin to tell you.

Enter the McRib and "restructured meat."  If you are one of the many people who apparently enjoy the McRib and its special limited appearances at McDonald's - you may or may not want to read what follows.  It just depends on if you have a problem with eating "restructured meat" or not. 

The McRib was introduced to McDonald's menu between 1981 and 1982, depending on the McDonald's.  It was developed by McDonald's first executive chef (not a term I would pick for a McDonald's menu item developer, but I wasn't consulted for the article), Rene Arend, to fill the void that the popularity of Chicken McNuggets had left.  It appears that the Chicken McNuggets, also developed by Arend, were such a hit that they depleted our chicken supply.  Not wanting to leave customers hungry and unhappy, Arend was given the task to develop a new hot selling menu item. 

Enter the McRib.  The McRib isn't actually made of out ribs, but out of restructured meat products:  "restructured meat product" contains a mixture of tripe, heart, and scalded stomach, which is then mixed with salt and water to extract proteins from the muscle. The proteins bind all the pork trimmings together so that it can be re-molded into any specific shape — in this case, a fake slab of ribs."

"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."

Even though the McRib is made by McDonald's and we don't think very highly of their food, we were still surprised to discover that the McRib is just another concoction of meats, or meat by-products rather, that I generally think they scraped up off the slaughter house floor and found a disgusting, albeit creative, use for.  I guess that even I was gullible in believing that since they looked like ribs - they actually were, or at the very least had some rib meat in them.

I find stories like this disturbing, and I wonder how many people realize what they are actually eating.  I knew about "pink slime" for years before public school parents across the country started complaining about it as though it was all new news to them, and I'm generally the last to know anything.  But I will admit that we have an odd fascination with food up here on the mountaintop, so maybe we pay more attention to these kinds of stories than the average Joe. 

If you would like to read the full article on the McRib, which I would recommend because it goes into far more and interesting depth than I did, it can be found here.  And if you're bored on this Sunday afternoon and haven't seen it - I would also recommend a viewing of Food, Inc..  Food, Inc. is a documentary, but it is fast paced and riveting, and it will leave you wanting to watch it again and again - at least it does me.




17 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. lol....it almost makes me want to become one, but I do like real, not pieced together meat.

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  2. I never had one, and now I don't think I ever will. I had a cold that has settled in my chest and I now have Bronchitis. My ribs ache from all the coughing. Yuck. Hope you feel better soon.

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    1. I've never had on either, and now I never will....I would be thinking about how it is made and gagging the whole time!

      I'm feeling like I "just" have a normal cold now.....hope you are better soon, too!

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  3. We need to stop and remember that some societies eat those organs frequently. I've even read that many Native Americans prefered organ meats because they felt that they had more nutrition in them. I don't like being mislead, but the contents don't bother me a bit. If you read enough labels, you'll eventually come across some hotdogs or lunch meat that admit to containing "beef lips and udders." No problem for me; they taste fine!

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    1. I would be more inclined to eat it if I was in a country that considered it a normal part of their diet and prepared it NATURALLY, but nothing about this concoction is natural.

      I eat hotdogs, too, but I have to force myself to not think about what is in them, and I don't eat them often. Still, I think I'll pass on a McRib:)

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  4. I have never been tempted by McRibs. Howeever, I really thought they were ribs. It makes me angry each time I am fooled about food.

    I am a great fan of hotdogs and consider them junk food, so I rarely eat them. One high school student in class one day almost turned me off them when he asked me, "Did you know there are pig penises in hot dogs?"

    The only organ meat I eat is calf liver. Of course, my mother put all the turkey giblets in gravy at Thanksgiving and I ate that. It is not so much what they put in the hotdogs or McRibs, but the idea that all the meat is processed so with different chemicals and binding agents. I do prefer my meat or other food to not have been processed so that it makes me sick to eat it. I need no more sodium, chemicals, or fake food in my life.

    Thanks for the eye-opener.

    Hope you get better soon.

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    1. lol....someone in grade school told me the same thing and I stopped eating them. When we had them for dinner I just ate bread with mustard on it. I eat them now, but I really do have to make an effort to NOT think about what is in them, and you know when you try to not think about something that you think about it more, right!!?

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  5. if you found that interesting, check out how gummy bears are made! lol! they actually DO use a bulldozer to scrape up the ingredients.

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    1. nooooooo! not the gummy bears, too!? lol...we actually don't eat gummy bears very often, maybe every year or two, but now I'm curious and will have to go find out the inside scoop on them!!

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  6. I have always thought the McRib is nasty...bleh. And to that fact I seldom go to McDonald's--way to much fat, salt and yuckiness. I worked as a flavor chemist so I know alot of the secret ingredients--and they aren't natural!

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    1. I don't know if I would want to know what else they put in that stuff. We hardly eat out and when we do we often don't feel good afterwards. It didn't used to be like that, but we ate out a lot more back then, so I think we just aren't used to all the crap in that food.....scary!

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  7. M,

    Ribs never look like the pictured McRib. The thought of
    eating a "restructured meat product" sounds terrible.
    Americans eat all kinds of processed and restructured foods daily,
    this explains why so many americans become sick.


    I am glad to hear your on the mend, take it easy the next several days. You have a wonderful family to help out while your gaining your strength back.

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    1. When I was at the store last night I was amazed at the person in line in front of me - all they had was frozen and prepackaged food. I did see a couple pounds of real hamburger and then I wondered what she was actually going to cook with it......up ahead was the boxes of hamburger helper....lol!

      The kids were a big help - they always are:)

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  8. Even worse is that video on the page you linked showing the care and treatment of the factory farmed animals. We have been working more on eating our own raised meat and that video completely made me realize we need to just quit buying meat in the store all together. We had already quit buying beef as we have access to fresh cow meat anytime we want for free (perks of husband being a hired hand on a farm) we get eggs from our chickens but don't buy chicken meat because of the way Perdue treats their birds. And now pork is out after watching those pig videos. We will be raising our own pig this spring.

    As for McDonalds we avoid it anyways :P Nothing Ok about fake food.

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    1. Good for you!! I tried raising our own meat birds and the butchering part didn't go so well, but I would like to try again for the same reasons you are talking about. Good luck with your pig!

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