McDonald’s ‘100% Chicken Breast’ Sandwiches Not Simply the Breast

November 2nd, 2017

UPDATE 11/7/17: McDonald’s now says on its website that its chicken sandwiches are made with “all white meat chicken filet,” as opposed to “100% chicken breast filet” as previously claimed, to reflect the presence of rib meat in its chicken sandwiches. The change in language comes in response to the findings of the following ad alert. (Read McDonald’s full statement here.)

McDonald’s says its chicken sandwiches are simply the breast, “made with 100% chicken breast filet.” But take a gander at the ingredients and you’ll find a surprising component: rib meat.

After a TINA.org reader reported seeing ads on TV and in print for McDonald’s “100%” chicken breast sandwiches that she asserted actually contain rib meat, we looked into it. Sure enough, right there on McDonald’s website, on individual menu item pages, TINA.org found six chicken sandwiches advertised as “made with 100% chicken breast filet” whose first ingredient listed was either “chicken breast fillets with rib meat” or “boneless skinless chicken breast with rib meat.”

Take the Sweet BBQ Bacon with Artisan Grilled Chicken sandwich, one of four “signature crafted” chicken sandwiches marketed on McDonald’s website as made with 100 percent breast meat:

But scroll down the page past the perfectly manicured sandwich and click on “View Ingredients & Allergens” (go on, do it) and you’ll see listed as the first ingredient boneless skinless chicken breast with rib meat:

Among the other five sammies in TINA.org’s sampling containing rib meat was the Artisan Grilled Chicken Sandwich, which, when it debuted around April 2015, was billed as “just tender, juicy 100 percent chicken breast filet”:

Our reader pointed out that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) “defines chicken breast and chicken breast with rib meat as two separate things.” And she’s right. When we reached out to the USDA, they got back to us with their labeling policy re chicken breasts. That would be the labeling on the poultry that McDonald’s buys. It stated in part that chicken products “labeled ‘Boneless Breast’ without further qualification may not contain … rib meat.” To flip that around, if a chicken product does contain rib meat it can’t be labeled with an unqualified claim like, say, “100% chicken breast filet.”

Find more of our coverage on fast food here.

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