Protein Meal vs. Fresh Meat

Did you know?

Ingredients in pet food are listed in descending order by their predominance in weight.

This includes the water weight of the ingredient when  it is mixed and not the actual weight after the product has been extruded, baked, or dried.

For example, a dry kibble  using“beef“ as the first ingredient will contain anywhere from 55% to 65% water before processing.

So, if the recipe is 60% beef and 40% dried potato flakes, this company could legally market its diet as 60% meat and 40% potato. Let’s do the math. Assuming the beef was 60 pounds at 55% moisture and the dried potato flakes were 40 pounds at 10% moisture going into the extruder, once this product is extruded it dehydrates down to 10% moisture. A huge percentage shift in ingredient weights has occurred.

The 60 pounds of beef, which contained 55% moisture now contains 10% moisture, and is reduced down to 30.3 pounds. The potato, which went in at 10% moisture stills weighs 40 pounds in the end product.

AAFCO allows a company to say this product includes 60% meat and 40% potato when in reality the end product in the bag only contains 30.3 pounds of beef. Still, the product has 40 pounds of dried potato flakes. The real end product has approximately 43% meat at 10% moisture and 52% potato at 10% moisture.

Example of a Kibble Formula Using Fresh Beef and Beef Meal

How an Ingredient Panel is allowed to appear for a kibble containing Beef, Beef Meal, Potatoes, Beef Fat

IngredientWeight
Beef (Fresh Meat slurry containing 55% moisture)1,000 lbs
Potato Flakes (Goes in at 10% moisture)700 lbs
Beef Fat (Sprayed on after processing and drying)300 lbs
Total Pre-extruded weight of batch mixture2,000 lbs

How the same Ingredient Panel would appear if put in actual order of final dried processed weight of each ingredient

IngredientWeight
Potato Flakes (Still at 10% moisture)700 lbs
Beef (Fresh Meat now extruded and dried down to 10% moisture)505 lbs
Beef Fat (Sprayed on after processing and drying)300 lbs
Total extruded weight of batch mixture1,505 lbs

As you can see the final product is not meat based food but a potato based diet. The highest protein the example above could be guaranteed is approximately 24% protein. Now, take a look at the example below using Beef Meal.

Example of a Kibble Formula Using Beef Meal

IngredientWeight
Beef Meal (Goes in at 10% moisture)1,000 lbs
Potato Flakes (Goes in at 10% moisture)700 lbs
Beef Fat (Sprayed on after processing and drying)300 lbs
Total Pre-extruded weight of batch mixture2,000 lbs

How the same Ingredient Panel would appear if put in actual order of final processed weight of each ingredient

IngredientWeight
Beef Meal (Still at 10% moisture)1,000 lbs
Potato Flakes (Goes in at 10% moisture)700 lbs
Beef Fat (Sprayed on after processing and drying)300 lbs
Total extruded weight of batch mixture2,000 lbs

During processing, all ingredients are dried to a 10% moisture level to maintain shelf life.

Since all ingredients, including the beef meal, start out at 10% moisture, the end product is also 10 percent moisture keeping all ingredients in the same order of weight inclusion in the final product.

The same quality meat and poultry can be used to make high quality “meals” which have the moisture already removed. These quality meals also contain an excellent amino acid profile contrary to what some people believe.

Using high quality meals also allow a manufacturer to put more animal protein into a diet because the water has already been removed. For many companies, putting a “meat” or “poultry” as the first ingredient is purely a marketing ploy which misleads the customer as to how much real animal protein is in the final, dried product.

If the actual end dried weight of the “meat” or “poultry” was listed by their predominance by weight after drying, then these ingredients would be listed much further down the ingredient list and would not be listed as the number one ingredient.

(Reference AAFCO Regulation PF5 Ingredients.)