For example, one pet food may list "meat" as its first ingredient, and "corn" as its second. The manufacturer doesn't hesitate to point out that its competitor lists "corn" first ("meat meal" is second), suggesting the competitor's product has less animal-source protein than its own. However, meat is very high in moisture (approximately 75% water). On the other hand, water and fat are removed from meat meal, so it is only 10% moisture (what's left is mostly protein and minerals). If we could compare both products on a dry matter basis (mathematically "remove" the water from both ingredients), one could see that the second product had more animal-source protein from meat meal than the first product had from meat, even though the ingredient list suggests otherwise.
That is not to say that the second product has more "meat" than the first, or in fact, any meat at all. Meat meal is not meat per se, since most of the fat and water have been removed by rendering. Ingredients must be listed by their "common or usual" name. Most ingredients on pet food labels have a corresponding definition in the AAFCO Official Publication. For example, "meat" is defined as the "clean flesh of slaughtered mammals and is limited to...the striate muscle...with or without the accompanying and overlying fat and the portions of the skin, sinew, nerve and blood vessels which normally accompany the flesh." On the other hand, "meat meal" is "the rendered product from mammal tissues, exclusive of any added blood, hair, horn, hide trimmings, manure, stomach and rumen contents." Thus, in addition to the processing, it could also contain parts of animals one would not think of as "meat." Meat meal may not be very pleasing to think about eating yourself, even though it's probably more nutritious. Animals do not share in people's aesthetic concerns about the source and composition of their food. Regardless, the distinction must be made in the ingredient list (and in the product name). For this reason, a product containing "lamb meal" cannot be named a "Lamb Dinner."
Here's the difference between meat and meat meal.
Meat or Meat Based - Meat is the clean flesh of slaughtered cattle, swine, sheep or goats. The flesh can include striated skeletal muscle, tongue, diaphragm, heskeletal muscle, tongue, diaphragm, heart or esophagus, overlying fat, and the portions of skin, sinew, nerves, and blood vessels normally found with that flesh. This is what some people would call on the hoof or "wet - state". This applies equal to all livestock whether it be Beef, Chicken, Lamb, etc.,,,. After processing these meats can loose up to 80% of their weight. Thus when looking at the ingredients list you might find it as number one but in truly reality after processing it will fall between 4, 5 or even 6 on a ture ingredients list.
Meat Meal - Rendered meal made from animal tissue. It cannot contain hair, hoof, blood, horn, hide trimmings, stomach or rumen (the first stomach) contents, or manure except for amounts that may not be avoided during processing. It cannot contain any added foreimay not be avoided during processing. It cannot contain any added foreign matter and may not contain more than 14% indigestible materials. Indigestible crude protein in the meal cannot be more than 11%. Meals are also use after processing and give a more ture actual weight on the list of ingredients for placement over whole meats or "wet - state" meats.
Here is the E-mail I received from Natures Variety
Thanks for writing! The changes made have just been to the kibble diets. Chicken meal is considered to be the single best source of protein in commercial pet foods. This ingredient is very digestible, very palatable, and very expensive. Nature’s Variety has recently introduced Raw Instinct™, a grain-free kibble. Ours is based on chicken meal and has tapioca as a starch, not potato.
Also, I want to note that Nature’s Variety New Zealand Venison Medley has been based on Venison Meal from its inception, as its ingredient statement has always stated. In fact, it was our good results with this high quality, single-source protein meat meal kibble, which provided a higher protein level than our other kibbles, that led us to consider and then adopt the formulation changes that we have made recently. As a result of these changes, we have been able to boost the protein levels of all of our other kibbles by 6 to 8 per cent, or 2 percentage points overall.
And we are still the “It’s where you find the meat company.” There is a misconception about meat meals. The term “meal” in this context refers to the process of grinding and removing the water from the specific meat under consideration. Again, I will cite the definition posted on our competitor’s web site (although it is basically the standard definition published by the American Association of Feed Control Officials “AAFCO”, the industry regulatory body): “Chicken meal is the dry rendered (cooked down) product from a combination of clean flesh and skin with or without accompanying bone, derived from the parts of whole carcasses of chicken -- exclusive of feathers, heads, feet, or entrails.” There are similar definitions for beef, lamb, venison and salmon meals.
So first, the term “meal” refers to a product that is pre-ground. Whole ground flaxseed meal is pre-ground, for instance. Second, meat meals are a more concentrated source of animal protein than whole meat. That is because whole meat will have a typical moisture content of 55-65%. Dry kibble is less than 10% moisture. The moisture in that whole meat is being removed in the kibble manufacturing process. Whole chicken meat is 14% protein, and 58% water, whereas the high quality chicken meal we use is 65% protein and no more than 8% moisture. The other meat meals have similar profiles, although are generally in the mid-50% protein range. Frankly, we came to appreciate the fact that we could provide a more nutritional diet by utilizing high quality, single protein source meat meals, such as chicken, lamb, beef, venison and salmon meals.
I have attached an excerpt from an article that appeared in the Whole Dog Journal in February 2005 that delineates their view of meat meal. Also, please do not confuse our quality, single protein source meat meals, with either meat by-product meals or generic meat meals.
You also raised some concerns about some other changes in the ingredient listing. One is with the order of listing of ingredients. Frankly, we spent a lot of time increasing the accuracy and readability of the listing for our consumers. One of the things we did in that regard was to group the vitamins and minerals. The position of “Vitamins” and “Minerals” in the ingredient listing is based on the aggregate weight of each category, whereas they previously were listed in the order of their individual weights of inclusion. Both methods are allowed by regulation, but we thought it would help consumers to understand which of the ingredients were vitamins and which were minerals by listing them together.
That put those long listings ahead of the freeze-dried and related ingredients that constitute our unique Bio-Coating®. Unfortunately, regulations do not allow us to aggregate those ingredients similar to what we can do with vitamins and minerals. In fact, however, we have improved our Bio-Coating by utilizing ground Nature’s Variety Freeze-Dried Raw Diets instead of a combination of individual freeze-dried meats as before.
As to “Natural Chicken Flavor” this describes a natural product derived from chicken liver that has always been on our chicken kibble (or similar protein specific products used on other kibbles). ALL kibble manufacturers include similar ingredients applied to the outside of the kibble at the end of the process to enhance the flavor. The fact is that kibble needs some flavor enhancement regardless of the nature of the ingredients used due to the nature of the kibble extrusion and drying process. Previously, we had included this under the designation “Chicken Liver” but we felt that it would be more accurate to separate it from the chicken liver that is included in the Bio-Coating.
The bottom line is that Nature’s Variety Prairie and Raw Instinct kibbles still represent the same premium, quality nutrition that they always have. I would ask that you continue to feed the products and prove to yourself that they still perform as well as or better than our previous formulations (including in the back yard).
I hope I have been able to provide you some helpful information and have allayed your concerns about our products.
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