What Is A “Meat” Meal?

Protein is crucial for all aspects of a dog’s growth and development, which is why puppies, pregnant and lactating females require an even greater amount of protein than other dogs. Protein is also critical to immune system maintenance and a dog’s health in general.

When purchasing dog food, you may wonder what could contain more protein than whole meat? Surprisingly, quality grade meat meal can actually contain more protein than the whole meat from which it is derived.

Meat meal is a dried end product of a cooking process that’s known as rendering. Akin to purposely overcooking, rendering cooks away the water and bakes the residue. The end product is a highly concentrated protein powder called meat meal.

For a comparison, a whole chicken contains roughly 70% water and 18% protein. After rendering, however, the resulting chicken meal contains just 10% water and a whopping 65% protein–nearly four times more protein than whole chicken.

Bear in mind that no meal product can ever be better than the raw materials that were used to make it. Higher quality meat meals are typically made from the meat of clearly identified sources. Lower grade meals are derived from anonymous materials like spoiled supermarket meats, slaughterhouse waste and even diseased or dying cattle.  

There is no such thing as human grade meat meal, since meat meal is never produced for human consumption and the facilities producing it are not licensed or certified to manufacture human-edible products that meet FDA standards. One defining characteristic of a high quality meat meal is a low ash content, which means the proportion of bone to meat is low.

How to Recognize
 Lower Quality Meat Meals

Since many manufacturers do little to clarify the true nature of the ingredients they use, 
avoid dog foods containing any meat meal that fails to identify the specific source animal or includes the words “by-product” in its name.

Using generic phrases on the ingredient list, inferior meat-based protein ingredients that are usually associated with lower quality dog food include:
·               Animal Meal
·               Chicken By-Product Meal
·               Meat and Bone Meal
·               Glandular Meal
·               Poultry Meal
·               Blood Meal

Chicken, Beef or Lamb?

Photo: Evanger's
Evanger's dog and cat food uses fresh meats
for an excellent source of protein and
bio-available nutrients
Every protein source has a different level of usable amino acids. This amount is termed “biological value.” Egg has the highest biological value, followed by chicken, fish and red meat. But don’t let that information distract you. Any source of meat protein will serve your dog well. And the fresher the source of protein, the more biologically available those nutrients are to your pet. This means that the body is better able to absorb what it needs to maintain optimal health.