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Originally published December 4 2013

McDonald's says McRib won't be rolled out nationally this year

by David Gutierrez, staff writer

(NaturalNews) McDonald's has announced that its iconic McRib sandwich will not be offered at all restaurants this year. This marks the first time since 2009 that the cult favorite will not be available nationwide.

Although the McRib is typically prominently promoted by McDonald's during the last few weeks of the year, this year, the company has introduced several new products instead, including Pumpkin Spice Latte, Mighty Wings and a new Dollar Menu.

"Because of these new options, we left it up to our franchisees as to whether or not they want to offer the McRib, based on their local preferences," McDonald's spokesperson Tyler Litchenberger said.

Analysts have attributed the decision to the company's poor financial performance in recent months; McDonald's sales grew just 0.7 percent in the third quarter of 2013.

Peter Saleh, a senior restaurant analyst at Telsey Advisory Group, noted that the incremental profit on the McRib is relatively low.

"The only way you can make [the McRib] more incremental is if you extended the time it's available or raised the price," he said. "My sense is they're not getting as much as incremental return as they'd like so they're going to do something else."

But Sam Oches, an editor at the fast food trade journal QSR Magazine, noted that limiting the availability of the McRib has actually driven its popularity in the long run.

"The McRib is interesting in that it's wildly successful, but McDonald's chooses not to add it to the permanent menu," he said. "In doing so, it elevates it to a pedestal that customers put it on."

Fans outraged

The McRib has gathered a devoted following since its 1982 introduction. The sandwich, which has been sporadically pulled from and reintroduced to the menu, has its own Facebook page and Twitter account, as well as numerous websites devoted to helping fans track it down.

McDonald's recent announcement pushed hits on up to 7,000 in one day, compared with the more usual 2,000.

"When this broke... people were pretty disappointed, saying, 'Oh, no I'm not going to eat McDonald's again,'" said Alan Klein, who administers the site.

Klein interprets such threats as more exaggeration than truth, however. He notes that McRib fans regularly go to extreme lengths to get their hands on the sandwich.

"Some fans will do whatever it takes," Klein said. "I had one in the Northeast who drove two hours one way to get one when it looked like it wouldn't be in their area."

No great tragedy?

From a health perspective, the loss of the McRib may be no great tragedy. Although few if any items on the McDonald's menu can truly be said to be good for your health, the McRib contains quite a few ingredients that are particularly questionable.

When you look at McDonald's official list of the McRib's ingredients, all you see are a pork patty, a bun, pickles, onions and the BBQ-like "McRib sauce." But examining the ingredients of the bun and the sauce turn up some questionable ingredients, such as high fructose corn syrup and hydrogenated soybean and cottonseed oil.

As if trans fats, genetically modified soy and non-food-grade cottonseed oil weren't enough, the McRib bun also contains azodicarbonamide, ammonium sulfate and polysorbate 80. Azodicarbonamide may be the worst of these. This chemical, which in addition to its use as a flour-bleaching agent is also used to make foamed plastics such as shoe soles and gym mats, has been banned in Europe and Australia due to health concerns. The United Kingdom's Health and Safety Executive also classifies it as a respiratory sensitizer.

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