Meat vs Meat meal: deciphering the label
Meat. We all know it is a crucial part of a healthy pup’s diet. Meat is high in protein has many key roles in a dog’s body including muscle growth and repair and immune system maintenance.
Sometimes interpreting the meat sources in dog food labels can be tricky. “Chicken”, “Chicken meal” and “Chicken by-products”: they are all the same thing right? Not exactly. Ingredients that sound very similar are in fact very different. Here are the common meats in pet food labels, and what they actually mean:
Meat: (e.g. Chicken, Beef)
Meat is the clean flesh of an animal- the muscle. This is typically what is sold in supermarkets, for example chicken breast or beef mince. It is the highest quality, and least processed animal protein in pet food. If you see this on your pet food label – then it’s time to celebrate!
Animal by-product is the remaining part of the animal, once the meat suitable for human consumption is removed. It may include lungs, spleen, kidneys, brain, livers, blood, bone, fatty tissue, stomach and intestine. Although individual organ meats such as beef liver are very nutritious for our dogs, animal by-product tends to also include less ideal animal parts, such as fatty tissues.
Due to logistical problems and high cost of handling raw meats, many pet food manufactures render meat and meat by-products. Rendering is a process in which the meat is cooked at a high temperature, and then dried to form a meal (read more about processed dog food here). This meal is typically much lower in moisture compared to the original products. Because it is cooked at a high temperature, natural-occurring nutrients in the food are typically lost. You want to avoid the following ingredients on your pet food label:
Meat and Bone Meal
The rendered product of animal muscle meat. It can also include animal parts such as blood, hair, hoof, hair, manure and stomach contents (in amounts unavoidable in good processing practices).
Animal By-Product Meal
The rendered product of animal by-products. It can also include animal parts such as blood, hair, hoof, hair, manure and stomach contents (in amounts unavoidable in good processing practices).
What protein does Lyka use?
Always meat and never meal: We always use fresh meat at Lyka, and never any meat meal. The meat is sourced within a day of being cooked. We always cook our meat at low temperatures, to retain the nutrients in the food.
Specially selected organs, and not by-products: We are a huge advocate of feeding our dogs with highly nutritious organ meats. We specifically select our organ meats: liver, kidney and heart for their nutritional value, and never use mixed animal by-products. This way we know exactly what goes into our food.