572 – Dog Food Behind the Scenes: Meat, Meal and Byproducts Defined
Dog Food Behind the Scenes: Meat, Meal and Byproducts Defined
Rob Downey, nutritionist, researcher and CEO of Annamaet dogfood company, joins host Laura Reeves for a deep dive on what ingredients lists on our dog food labels mean.
“We have to back up a little bit and look at what those statements mean and where definitions come from,” Downey said. “That really comes from AAFCO. You’ll see on the package whether it be canned, frozen or whatever. AAFCO is Association of American Feed Control Officials. They don’t regulate pet foods. What they do is they set up the guidelines. And then the regulation goes through the FDA and the Department of Agriculture in most states. So AAFCO is actually a volunteer organization. Each person gets a vote, and you have to be on one of these bodies. So each state has the ability to regulate how they view it. And the sad part is, those regulations are open to the interpretation of each state official. So, every state has a feed control official. And as a pet food manufacturer, for me to sell in each state, I have to be approved by that state. So, you have to send your labels in to each individual state.
“They are the ones that determine the terminology that we’re allowed to use. And so, for example, fresh meat. If the meat you use has been frozen at any time, it’s no longer considered fresh. So as a manufacturer, I wouldn’t trust shipping non-frozen meat. What I call fresh meat, I want frozen and I’ll thaw it when I want to use it, but then I can’t attach the word fresh to it.
“Then you get into the term meal, and meal is actually a processing term where you take raw meat, and it’s heated up, moisture is removed, a lot of the fats removed and it becomes a powder and then that’s how it shipped as a meal. And then that’s also called a rendered ingredient. AAFCO is pretty strict about rendered. Anytime you change the physical component or whatever, you heat it up or you do this or do that now, it becomes a rendered product. So even in the food chain, like for instance my local meat store, if they make a sausage? If it was in the pet industry, that would be considered rendered
And the other thing that is kind of interesting, the term meal isn’t used in most parts of the world. Like if I use chicken meal, somebody in Europe, they don’t have the term meal. They would call it dehydrated chicken or simply chicken.
“Now the advantage of using a meal, is that basically the moisture has been removed. So, if I’m ordering chicken meal, a truckload, it’s only going to be 10% moisture. I’m ordering fresh chicken, a truckload is going to be 70% water, only 30% dry matter. But when you read the label. On the ingredient list, it’s according to wet weight, so it includes all that water. That’s why when you see a fresh meat formula or a meat formula, there’s always seems to be more meat ingredients, because there’s so much water. Of course, when you’re doing an extruded product that all gets kicked out.
“So chicken meal is basically skin, muscle and no internal organs. Like you can’t have organ meat in it, you can have some bone in it. But when you go to byproduct meal, that’s when the organ meat gets involved.”
When the label gives the minimum percentages of the contents (30/20 protein and fat, for example), it doesn’t have to specify the maximum, which can vary drastically from the minimum! Listen in for more insider details.
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