Meat or Meal- which shall it be?
It’s hard to resist a pet food listing fresh meat as a primary ingredient. Meal just doesn’t seem to have the same attraction, does it?
But it is important to understand a distinct difference between these ingredients:
• Fresh Meat contains a large percentage of water
• Meal is simply Meat with the moisture removed.
As we learned in the discussion about splitting ingredients , since Fresh Meat contains water weight, it will often show up as the first ingredient in a food. Remember, ingredients must be listed in order of weight.
But let’s get a bit more specific here. We want to see specific meat protein sources listed, rather than “generic” protein sources.
What do we mean by “specific” and “generic” protein sources?
Fresh Meat or Meat Meal can be just about any type of animal source. More importantly, it does not necessarily remain consistent from batch to batch. Since it is non-specified, it can be. . . non-specific. Think mystery meat.
But technically, and legally, it can be defined and listed as Meat.
Same goes for Fresh Poultry or Poultry Meal. This is a bit more specific then “Meat” as an ingredient, but it can include one or more sources of chicken, turkey, duck, or other poultry sources.
When you see a “non-specific” protein source listed as an ingredient, that is often an indication of low quality. Look for specific protein sources, and more than just a fresh meat at the top of an ingredient list.
“Specific” Protein Sources
Let’s compare Fresh Chicken (Meat) and Chicken Meal. The same would apply to Fresh Lamb/ Lamb Meal or fresh Turkey/ Turkey Meal et al. We’ll leave the generic sources behind.
Fresh Chicken is a great ingredient. Even though is contains a lot of water, it is an excellent nutritive source. The problem comes if there is no other meat protein source in addition to a first listing of Fresh Chicken.
Chicken Meal is simply Fresh Chicken with the moisture removed.
The equivalent weight of Chicken Meal is more nutrient dense than Fresh Chicken.
If a 6 oz Chicken Breast is 30% water by weight, that translates into 4.2 oz. of Chicken Meal (6 oz. minus 1.8 oz. of water weight).
So don’t be mislead by seeing Fresh Chicken at the top of an ingredient list. Look a little further, remember what you learned about splitting, and see what’s really in that bag.
You may be surprised to find that your food consists primarily of grains and by-products, rather than that fresh meat that appears as ingredient #1.