WHOLE Meat or “Meat Meal” in Pet Food?

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Check the Label

As a pet parent, we all want to feed our furry family members with good, wholesome food. That’s easy to do isn’t it? I mean, almost all of the major premium “natural” brands tout meat as their first ingredient. We do. However, if you look closely at these other premium “natural” brands, you’ll notice the second, and many times third, fourth and fifth ingredients are various types of “meat meal,” like “chicken meal,” and “fish meal”. At Halo we use real WHOLE meat, poultry, or fish, and NO “meat meal” of any kind.

Other companies compare dry, rendered “meat meal” to WHOLE meat, arguing that “meat meal” is higher in protein and therefore better. Well, they have one thing right. “Meat meal” is higher in protein. It’s 65% protein and 10% water, while WHOLE meat is 18% protein and 70% water. The problem is, they’re using this fact to tell a false story.

What is “meat meal” in pet food?
We can debunk it by answering one question: What is “meat meal”? Don’t be fooled by notions of hearty stews or tasty trimmings that are gently cooked and dried. “Meat meal” starts as a slurry of parts. It is then rendered, which is a high-heat process that creates product as fast as it can to reduce costs. Then it’s pressed, ground, and again baked to remove excess moisture. In the process, proteins and fats are often damaged, and that affects both digestibility and nutritional value. So, while these companies and their packaging may shout how much protein is in their food, their ingredients quietly tell another story.

With “meat meal,” you get what you pay for
Economics is the whole reason companies use “meat meal”—it’s cheap protein that runs fast through the manufacturing equipment. As the economics of pet food become more and more difficult, the pressure is to get more yield out of less material. More and more bone (and who knows what else) is making its way into “meat meal”. The WHOLE meat Halo uses is sourced from the same food a consumer would purchase, which makes it much more expensive than “meat meal”.

Economics is driving another trend in premium “natural” pet foods. “Chicken by-product meal” is beginning to show up in their ingredients with the statement that it is a source of glucosamine and chondroitin. Another true statement used to mislead pet parents. Yes, “chicken by-product meal” is a source of glucosamine and chondroitin, but that is not why it’s used. It’s an even cheaper form of “meal” that provides protein. While “meat meals” are no replacement for WHOLE meat, “by-product meals” are the bottom of the barrel. “By-product meal” contains heads, entrails, feet and feathers, (there’s a lot of protein in those feathers). It contains glucosamine and chondroitin by accident.

Quality protein, quality process, quality pet food
Kibble made with “meat meals” can be made more quickly than kibble with high percentages of WHOLE meat (because WHOLE meat has more moisture)—another reason companies use “meat meals”. Their equipment can run faster so they have more capacity, which makes it cheaper to manufacture.

At Halo, our kibble manufacture almost never exceeds 210 degrees F. It is not a high-temperature or high-pressure rendering process. Heating kibble too high would cause the starches in it to burn and make it unpalatable. It has to be cooked and dried lower and slower. Like our ingredients, our process at Halo is more expensive, it takes longer, and it’s worth it to have a great-tasting food made with WHOLE meat that is super digestible.

We stand behind the cost of our cat food and dog food because we stand behind the quality of it. Talk to anyone who has switched to Halo and they will tell you about the transformation their pet has gone through, becoming noticeably healthier after the change. That’s why we’re proud to be the Most Loved Natural Pet Food. Pet parents can see the difference.

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