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Fresh Meat and the Misunderstandings of Ingredient Profiles in Dog Food

a fresh fish sitting on a slab of wood

What’s deceptive about “fresh meat?”

We live in a day and age where information is very important. Information is a necessary part of our decision making process. If we want to make informed decisions for our best pals, we have to rely on the information made transparent by companies and related organizations of authority. We have to be careful on how we interpret information though. Wording is very crucial and can give false impressions if not understood correctly. Words like “fresh chicken” or other “fresh meats” may seem great, but can be deceiving in some ways.

Canine Caviar would like to talk about terminology in ingredient profiling and how information can be misunderstood. How you perceive ingredients and benefits may not be as accurate to what is actually in dog food formulas.

AAFCO’s Requirements for Lists of Ingredients

AAFCO logoBefore we get into the difference wording like “fresh meat” can have on ingredient lists and your perception of those ingredients, we have to refresh ourselves on the rules. The requirements for the ingredients list is established by the Association of Animal Feed Control Officials (AAFCO). Here are some of those requirements:

  • Ingredients must be approved as being generally safe
  • Foods considered as “drugs” must be FDA approved
  • Ingredients are listed in order by weight
  • Ingredients can be separated by ingredient type (ingredient splitting)
  • There can be no references to the quality or grade of an ingredient

After reading, you can see there’s a bit of wiggle room for ingredients. For example, approved ingredients only need to be “generally safe.” This wording is what allows ingredients like corn and soy to be allowed in dog food although they aren’t the best. Ingredients can also be split to look like smaller ingredients and be listed lower on the ingredient list. Let’s look back at corn. If used in a formula, corn could be broken up by different types of corn such as ground corn and kibbled corn. This splits up the corn to make it seem less prevalent in the formula than it really is.

The important thing to grasp from these rules is that they can be manipulated in favor of dog food companies. Companies want their products to look more appealing than their competitor’s so manipulating rules through careful wording is essential for them. A word like “fresh meat” or “whole meat” or “real meat” might need some thinking to better understand.

What’s Deceptive about “Fresh Meat?”

generic competitor brand dog food bag“Fresh Meat” at first glance seems pretty enticing. It’s not a meal and sounds like a good natural source. This wording can be misleading though. Let’s use an example. The picture above highlights the ingredient profile for Dog Food Brand A. In this example, the dog food claims fresh lamb to be the first ingredient and in the ingredients list, lamb is indeed the first ingredient. But does this mean fresh lamb is really the most prevalent ingredient? No, it doesn’t. One of AAFCO’s rules is that ingredients must be listed by weight before processing. That means, lamb by weight is the most prevalent but we’re talking about fresh lamb. Meat is 75% water just like us and other living creatures. That moisture doesn’t remain after the cooking process kibbles goes through. So even though fresh meat is listed at the top, after the water is removed during processing, the quantity of meat on an “as fed basis” is actually lower on the ingredient list.

That also means the actual amount of protein and nutrients is far less than perceived. It’s a different story for other meat formats such as meals or dehydrated meats. Meals contain an average of 10% moisture; a big difference compared to fresh meat. Less moisture means a bigger concentration in protein. That also means it would take a lot of fresh meat to meet the same nutritional level as meals.

Aren’t Meals Bad?

Meals certainly have many negative connotations geared toward them. Many people think all meals are poor quality ingredients made by disgusting byproducts inedible for any living creatures. The truth is it’s not that simple. There are many different grades of meals. Some meals are poor quality but there are also high quality meals that are better than whole meats. It’s all a matter of the dog food company and how good they want their meals to be. So how can you know if a certain meal is good or not? The best thing you can do is contact the dog food manufacturer and ask questions. There’s not a more credible source than the people who make the food after all. Don’t be afraid to ask how they make their meals; it will help you get a better understanding of their quality. So all meals aren’t bad, some are merely misunderstood.

The Canine Caviar Difference

Canine Caviar logoCanine Caviar strives to make a difference when it comes to dog food. We don’t focus on how we word ingredients or other tactics; we choose to be honest with buyers. Canine Caviar focuses on high quality ingredients with specific benefits for our pets. Our alkaline limited ingredient dog food formulas  use dehydrated meats and high grade meals to provide the nutrition your dogs need.

Canine Caviar also doesn’t rely on large marketing campaigns. Our food is based on two things and two things only. The science involved in crafting our diets and the merits its achieved through the wonderful people and dogs who try our food.  If you have more questions or need some more convincing, you can always call our office at 714.223.1800 from the hours of 8AM-4PM Pacific Standard Time (PST). 

Final Thoughts

Marketing strategies are not always straightforward. Something as simple as the word “fresh meat” can be deceptive to you, the buyer. You rely on accurate information to make well-informed decisions. It’s important to understand how things such as ingredient profiles work if we are to choose the best food for our dogs. We hope you’ve learned something new or refreshed yourself on what you already know. 

Check out the Canine Caviar blog for more great content. You can learn how raw feeding compares to Canine Caviar or see 9 foods that are toxic to dogs.

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