Mommy tries to be particular about what she lets me eat. A few weeks ago she took over my blog and posted about the new canned food I am eating by Variety Pet Foods and the evils of Cesar’s. I especially like Variety’s Sunday Brunch, Grandma’s Stew and Grandad’s Roast. Today she found a site called Dog Food Advisor whose slogan is “Saving Good Dogs from Bad Food.” Variety Pet Food got all 4’s and 5’s on a 5 point scale. She wanted to share this particular article about “meal” with you today. I guess you could call this Sunday school!
The Mysterious Meat Concentrate Most People Know Little (or Nothing) About
For a dog food, what could contain more protein than whole meat?
Well, surprisingly, a quality grade meat meal can actually be a more abundant source of protein than the whole meat from which it was made.
Meat meal is a dried end-product of the cooking process known as rendering. Rendering is a lot like making stew — except that this stew is intentionally over-cooked.
With rendering, you start with a meat stew, cook away the water and bake the residue. And you end up with a highly concentrated protein powder — or meat meal.
Now, check out the chart above. Notice how whole chicken contains about 70% water and 18% protein.
Yet after rendering, the resulting chicken meal contains just 10% water and a whopping 65% protein.
That’s nearly four times more protein than whole chicken!
Nutritious Ingredient or Anonymous Waste?
Of course, not all meat meals are created equal. Some are of very high quality while others are positively awful.
It all boils down to the stew’s contents — the raw materials. And one critically important principle…
No meal product can ever be better than the raw materials that were used to make it.
Better meals are typically made from the meat of clearly identified sources. Low-grade meals come from anonymous materials like slaughterhouse waste and spoiled supermarket meats — even diseased or dying cattle — or dead zoo animals.
For a more detailed look at the dark side of the industry, you may wish to read “The Shocking Truth About Commercial Dog Food“.
How to Recognize Lower Quality Meat Meals
Since many manufacturers do little to clarify the true nature of the ingredients they use, two important rules can help you avoid choosing an inferior products.
Avoid dog foods containing any meat meal that:
- Includes the words “by-products” in its name
- Fails to identify the specific source animal1
Here are some examples of inferior meat-based protein ingredients. Notice the generic nature of the phrases:
- Meat meal
- Animal meal
- Chicken by-product meal
- Meat and bone meal
- Glandular meal
- Poultry meal
- Blood meal
Species-specific animal sources include names like beef, venison, lamb, chicken, etc. When you see ingredients like those listed above in any recipe, it’s a sign you’re probably looking at a lower quality dog food.