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Meat Meal: Differentiating High Quality from Low Quality

When browsing through dog food labels, one term that often arises is "meat meal." However, understanding the quality and implications of this ingredient can be complex. Not all meat meals are created equal, and discerning pet owners should be aware of the differences to ensure they're providing their furry companions with the best nutrition possible.


There is actually a lot of misconceptions around the use of meat meal, and sadly that is because there are two distinct qualities - extremely poor (not for human consumption) and high quality (what we use at Petzyo)! 


What is Meat Meal?

Meat meal is a concentrated form of animal protein commonly found in pet foods. It is created by rendering animal tissues, such as meat, bone, and connective tissue, into a dry meal form. This process involves removing water and fat, resulting in a highly concentrated protein source.  In fact high quality meat meal is ~65% Protein, in comparison to whole protein which is roughly 18% (nearly 4x the amount)!

Protein Comparison Infographic

Low Quality Meat Meal:

Low-quality meat meal is typically derived from rendering processes that utilise animal by-products deemed unfit for human consumption. These include parts like feathers, hooves, and even diseased or spoiled animal tissues. The concern with low-quality meat meal lies in its nutritional profile and potential health risks.


Rendering methods for low-quality meat meal often involve high temperatures and extended processing times, which can degrade the protein's quality and compromise its digestibility. Additionally, the inclusion of undesirable by-products introduces the risk of contaminants and harmful substances, such as pathogens or toxins, into the pet food.


High Quality Meat Meal:

Despite common misconceptions, numerous varieties of meat meals consist of meat that is equally high in quality and digestibility as whole meat products. This is because certain meat meals consist entirely of whole meat!


These meats undergo stringent quality control measures to ensure they meet safety standards for human consumption. High-quality meat meal is derived from the muscle tissue of these animals, providing a rich, condensed source of essential amino acids and nutrients vital for pet health.


The production process for high-quality meat meal prioritises quality and nutritional integrity. It typically involves minimal processing, with the meat being ground and gently cooked to remove excess moisture and fat while preserving its nutritional value. This careful processing maintains the protein's quality and digestibility, ensuring that pets can efficiently utilise the nutrients for energy and bodily functions.


What are the health benefits of high quality meat meal?

Meat meal is a concentrated source of nutrients, providing several essential components that contribute to your pet's overall health and well-being

  1. Protein: Meat meal is rich in protein, which is essential for building and repairing tissues, supporting muscle development, and maintaining overall body function. Protein provides the necessary amino acids that serve as the building blocks for various biological processes in your pet's body.

  2. Amino Acids: Meat meal contains a wide array of amino acids, including both essential and non-essential amino acids. Essential amino acids cannot be synthesized by the body and must be obtained through the diet. These amino acids play crucial roles in metabolism, immune function, and hormone regulation.

  3. Fatty Acids: Meat meal contains essential fatty acids, such as omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, which are vital for promoting healthy skin and coat, supporting cognitive function, and maintaining cardiovascular health. These fatty acids also have anti-inflammatory properties and contribute to overall immune function.

  4. Vitamins: Meat meal is a natural source of various vitamins, including vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin E, and B vitamins (such as B12, riboflavin, and niacin). These vitamins are essential for maintaining healthy vision, bone development, immune function, energy metabolism, and overall vitality.

  5. Minerals: Meat meal provides essential minerals like calcium, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, zinc, and iron. These minerals are necessary for bone health, muscle function, electrolyte balance, and various metabolic processes within the body.

  6. Collagen and Gelatin: Meat meal may contain collagen and gelatin, which are beneficial for supporting joint health, promoting gastrointestinal health, and contributing to skin and coat health.

  7. Taurine: In certain meat meals, especially those derived from poultry sources, taurine may be present. Taurine is an essential amino acid for cats and plays a critical role in vision, heart health, and overall metabolic function. 

How to Ensure High Quality Meat Meal in Your Pets Food:

Meat meal for dogs

When determining if the meat meal is high quality make sure to investigate the following:

  1. Named Source: Look for meat meals that specify the source of the protein, such as "chicken meal" or "salmon meal." This ensures transparency and allows you to know exactly what your pet is consuming.

  2. Protein Content: High-quality meat meal should have a high protein content, typically ranging from 50% to 70%. This ensures that your pet receives ample protein for muscle development, maintenance, and overall health.

  3. Nutrient Density: Quality meat meal contains essential nutrients, vitamins, and minerals that contribute to your pet's overall nutrition. It provides amino acids, fatty acids, and other vital nutrients necessary for optimal health.

  4. Manufacturing Standards: Choose brands that adhere to strict manufacturing standards and prioritise quality control measures. This ensures that the meat meal is produced using safe and sanitary processes, free from contaminants and impurities.

  5. Natural Preservatives: Opt for meat meals preserved with natural antioxidants such as tocopherols (vitamin E) or rosemary extract, rather than artificial preservatives like BHA, BHT, or ethoxyquin.

How to Recognise Lower Quality Meat Meals

Unfortunately, not all meat meals meet the same standards of quality and nutritional value. Low-quality meat meal may lack essential nutrients and may even pose health risks to your pet. Here are some red flags to watch out for:

  1. Generic Source: Be wary of meat meals that are labeled simply as "meat meal", "chicken by-product meal", "meat and bone meal" or "animal meal" without specifying the source. This lack of transparency makes it difficult to determine the quality and safety of the protein.

  2. Low Protein Content: Low-quality meat meal may have a lower protein content, often below 50%. This can indicate that the meal contains a higher proportion of fillers and less actual meat protein.

  3. Questionable Ingredients: Avoid meat meals that contain by-products, rendered fats, or unspecified animal parts. These ingredients may be of inferior quality and could potentially contain harmful additives or contaminants.

  4. Inconsistent Manufacturing Practices: Brands with inconsistent manufacturing practices or lacking quality control measures may produce meat meals that are prone to contamination or nutrient degradation.

  5. Artificial Additives: Watch out for meat meals preserved with artificial additives such as BHA, BHT, or ethoxyquin, as these chemicals may have adverse effects on your pet's health.