Meat Meal — The Mysterious Meat Concentrate Most People Know Little (or Nothing) About


For a dog food, what could contain more protein than whole meat?

Whole Chicken & Chicken Meal ComparedWell, surprisingly, a quality grade meat meal can actually be a more abundant source of protein than the whole meat from which it was made.

Here’s why.

Meat meal is a dried end-product of the cooking process known as rendering. Rendering is a lot like making stew — except that this stew is intentionally over-cooked.

With rendering, you start with a meat stew, cook away the water and bake the residue.  And you end up with a highly concentrated protein powder — or meat meal.

Now, check out the chart above. Notice how whole chicken contains about 70% water and 18% protein. 

Yet after rendering, the resulting chicken meal contains just 10% water and a whopping 65% protein.

That’s nearly four times more protein than whole chicken!

Nutritious Ingredient
or Anonymous Waste?

Of course, not all meat meals are created equal. Some are of very high quality while others are positively awful.

It all boils down to the stew’s contents — the raw materials. And one critically important principle…

No meal product can ever be better than the raw materials that were used to make it.

Better meals are typically made from the meat of clearly identified sources. Low-grade meals come from anonymous materials like slaughterhouse waste and spoiled supermarket meats — even diseased or dying cattle — or dead zoo animals.

For a more detailed look at the dark side of the industry, you may wish to read “The Shocking Truth About Commercial Dog Food“.

How to Recognize
Lower Quality Meat Meals

Since many manufacturers do little to clarify the true nature of the ingredients they use, two important rules can help you avoid choosing an inferior products.

Avoid dog foods containing any meat meal that:

  1. Includes the words “by-products” in its name
  2. Fails to identify the specific source animal1

Here are some examples of inferior meat-based protein ingredients. Notice the generic nature of the phrases:

  • Meat meal
  • Animal meal
  • Chicken by-product meal
  • Meat and bone meal
  • Glandular meal
  • Poultry meal
  • Blood meal

When you see ingredients like these in any recipe, it’s a sign you’re probably looking at a lower quality dog food.

  1. Species-specific animal sources include names like beef, venison, lamb, chicken, etc.
  • Lvshorses777

    Hey, I’m sorry it’s took me so long to get back to you. I’ve been looking up so much stuff and writing down everything and I just went to my emails and got yours and was fixing to email you back and I was trying to put your email in another folder so I wouldn’t lose it and it got deleted. Will you please email me back. Thanks Rita

  • Amateria

    I have emailed you, I’m simply writing this to be sure that you got the email? As its been 2 days.

  • William Brown

    I would feed my dog just as well as if i had children

  • Lvshorses777
  • aimee

    The use of the term “crude” in front of fat, protein and fiber refers to the analytical methods used to calculate the nutrient

    . Think of “crude” as meaning “an estimate of” it has nothing to do with it being a descriptive term of the quality of the protein or fat being measured.

  • Amateria

    My mum generally makes the food but from what I recall seeing in his food was carrots and broccoli mainly, she sometimes adds pumpkin and peas and he even had corn one time until I said to make sure that if you use frozen that you don’t buy ones with corn.

    What you mentioned sounds really good, I’d just keep doing that.

    As for the sweet potato yeah I would use it as a treat of sorts, I wouldn’t personally give it at every meal for the sugar reason alone.
    Pumpkin is very good for digestion and helps tremendously with sick stomachs.

    Oh she also kinda cooks the chicken and veggies together in a big pot kinda like making soup and once she’s done she covers the food lightly in the broth and adds some white rice which I forgot about.

  • Lvshorses777

    I had canned chicken when I first brought her home but I switched to store bought chicken and I boil it. Was giving her peas, green beans, a little sweet potatoes. Now it says I can still give her peas, green beans, broccoli, and kale and leafy greens. Not a lot of course. And some fruits.

  • Lvshorses777

    Thank God, I knew I got on here for a reason tonight. That’s what kind of dog I just got a little girl tho, she don’t even maybe weigh 11/2 lbs. She’s tiny, and I been feeding her chicken and veggies and she’s been doing real good. I tried feeding her beef and it tore her stomach up. Can you tell me what kind of veggies you feed yours ? A place said sweet potatoes was real good for digestion and then I read they are real high in sugar.

  • Amateria

    Our chihuahua boy has been eating the same food for about 4 years of his life now which is just boiled chicken breast and veggies, his body is very similar to a coby chihuahua variant so the only part of his body that’s fatty is his neck ;P

    Anyways he’s had almost no flare ups with his pancreatitis and when he did have a flare up it was because he ate something he shouldn’t have, I personally am never going to ask my mum to change his food because we have tried that, we tried to rotate meats and he flared up and since my mum sleeps with him she doesn’t want to deal with anymore of his symptoms especially when he gets severe pain, I don’t blame her, I hate seeing dogs in pain.

    I do give him some daily foods as treats though, but I don’t give them everyday anymore after his last flare up.
    The puppy on the other hand eats a frozen raw ball, some of rusty’ food if she doesn’t feel like the ball and a few other things here and there and they look fabulous and don’t appear to be suffering with any noticeable ailments so to be honest unless something changes I’m happy.

  • Lvshorses777

    Yeah, it makes me want to do what a friend of mine does. And by the way her vet told her it was fine. And Penny is a beautiful Winnie dog. She’s a few pounds over weight but that’s because they feed her table scraps sometimes. But she eats mostly canned chicken in water and Joy washes it about 3 times before she gives it to her. And that dog does great !!! Goes to the vet and has great check ups and is fine. And she buys her canned chicken from Doller General Store. I buy mine from Walmart it’s cheaper. And give a few veg. about 3 days a week, ground up good. I’m about done with all this crazy stuff. I think if it’s meat good enough for me to eat I’ll feed it to my dog and if the veggies don’t turn to sugar she can have them too. Seems like all bought dog food is bad. And if they are trying to tell you how to make homemade there’s a vitamin store somewhere on the site that they probably get a profit from all the vitamins sold on that site, and if you look the vitamins up they have bad stuff in them too !! So I’m about done with the their ain’t no good food a dog can eat. And going to the way my Daddy and kin fokes used to raise them and they lived a lot longer. If we eat meat they can eat it. And a little bit of veggies. JS

  • Amateria

    Based on Dr Becker this is what it means:
    The use of the term ‘crude’ protein, fat and fiber on the dry food label. Crude can mean a lot of things. Shoe leather, for example, is a ‘crude’ protein. Bottom line: there’s no way to determine how much of an ingredient categorized as ‘crude’ is digestible or will provide nourishment to your pet’s body.

    So based of hers and other things I read when I searched its meaning on google means that you want food that states “fat” on its own without the “crude” or else you get a lower quality.

  • Lvshorses777

    I know it probly means the same as bad, but I want to make sure.

  • Amateria

    I’ve gotta say I’ve become a bit of a grammar nazi myself as of the last year, so many people can’t spell these days and I guess it kind of got to me I don’t know, what I do know is I need to slow it down for my sake as its not healthy.
    Here’s a like though as I wholeheartedly agree!

  • Lvshorses777

    What about when it says Crude fat. What does this mean and is it good to feed my dog ?

  • Lvshorses777

    Who gives a damn about spelling ? I’m worried about my dog’s life !!! Spelling is free and if you can spell good for you. Maybe you should go to a site where they are having a spelling bee. Dog food cost money and I don’t care what it cost to feed my dog she will be fed as good as family, because that’s what she is. If you get on here and want to argue about spelling then you must be mad about not being able to do this for your dog. Please be grown ups and come here to learn about dog food, not spelling !!!

  • Bryan Simmons

    You jumped on board by using Rachael Ray’s pet food. It hasn’t been out on the market that long.

  • aimee

    Hi Mimi Noda,

    You seem to be advocating for raw meat diets for dogs. I’ll agree that dogs have a shorter intestinal tract than humans but that doesn’t protect them from colonization (Finley, 2007)

    Bacterial transference is very common. Salmonella has been cultured out of vacuum cleaner contents. You needn’t be handling stool to be exposed. The stuff gets around.

    Unfortunately dogs can have problems from raw chicken and pork..bones too.

    There is always risk in eating and each person has to decide what risks they want their pet and family to assume.

    You wrote “Check this out: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 219 (9) 1222”

    I checked out the article you recommended. After outlining the many infections that dogs can acquire or transmit from raw meat it concludes with recommendations:

    “To improve the health of pets and their owners, as well as to protect livestock, several recommendations for safe feeding of pets are suggested. First and foremost, never feed raw meat or fish to pets and limit access to carrion or hunting.

  • Mimi Noda


  • Mimi Noda

    And P&G still do animal testing for almost all of their products. Think they really care what they put in their dog food?

  • Mimi Noda

    Not to mention how wild dogs survived without humans taking care of them for ages before we domesticated them. They killed and ate their food raw. If the dog is healthy then raw chicken won’t hurt it. It will pass through their system before the bacteria can colonize

  • Mimi Noda

    You guys are crazy. Sorry i had to get that out first and foremost. Dogs are well equipped to deal with bacteria. Their saliva has anti bacterial properties and their digestive tracts are designed to push through food and bacteria quickly without giving the bacteria to colonize. You can feed your dog raw chicken and pork and the bones too with no problems. If you’re really worried about trichinosis Then freeze the pork for about two weeks before feeding it to your dog. As for the salmonella with chicken your dog will pass it in its feces so don’t eat your dog’s pop and wash your hands after picking up after your dog. I can almost guarantee that most commercialized dog foods contain worse bacteria than raw chicken or pork. Check this out: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 219 (9) 1222

  • Mimi Noda

    And even though I’m sure is not mostly euthanized animals I’m pretty sure it has a fair amount in it. Thing is, most of us will never know; which is why it just says “meat meal” otherwise it would be specific about what kind of meat it is. Which is why i know i would never want to eat it. And if I wouldn’t eat it then I wouldn’t feed it to my pet that I adore.

  • Mimi Noda

    Actually they do have taste buds they’re just way inferior compared to ours. Also they sweat through the pads of their paws and cool themselves with their tongues.

  • Sam

    Thank you!

  • Mimi Noda

    I totally agree with you Mike. If it doesn’t specify what type of meal it is then there could be just about anything in there. And i don’t trust the FDA to be honest.

  • Mimi Noda

    Also Sam, not all meal is bad but it should state what kind of meal it is. If it doesn’t then yes it is probably bad. But only do specific meat meals, nothing like corn or soybean meal though. And you shouldn’t eat soybeans either because pretty much all of them (as in over 90% produced in the U.S.) is genetically modified.

  • Mimi Noda

    I applaud you on your choice of dog food. For my beagle, I feed her 1/3 fresh pet ( the kind that has to be refrigerated) and 2/3 Spot’s Stew by Halo. It’s probably a little cheaper but not by much. Other option would be to make it yourself which could be more expensive unless you have a garden and raise chicken or other livestock. So i was once told by a “dog food snob/great pet lover” to always check the first three ingredients because the dog food will be made mostly of this and if they are things that you would eat then it is a good food for your pet. Anyway, I always try to feed my baby girl as best asi can because I want her to livea long and healthy life.

  • Mimi Noda

    Remember that the FDA is part of our government and our government is basically owned by big corporations. That aside, i was once told to check the first three ingredients because those are the main thing in the food. If they are something you would eat then it’s probably good for your pet.

  • Mimi Noda

    Read the article completely please. The author included a link.

  • Haley

    I can’t BELIEVE how many supposed adults that have commented on this page that didn’t read what was said and don’t even realize what they’re saying! He didn’t endorse one single product! This article simply states what meal is–which according to this article IS better than regularly cooked meat–and goes on to state to pay closer attention to all ingredients of ANY PRODUCT you buy for your animals because they are not regulated like food fit for human consumption, and there is a guaranteed reason they would list “animal” by-product (or meal or whatever the case may be, that’s not what’s important here) instead of the specific animal such as chicken, beef, etc. What is so difficult to understand? I’m baffled!

  • rpmdude

    Pay no attention to this Mike in Lacey person, Crazy4dogs… They think dogs don’t have taste buds… LMAO…. Mike is a animal expert ‘wannabe’ and knows rather little about anything… Read above there they claim dogs don’t have taste buds…. Really comical.

  • Shawna

    I can’t agree that it’s “mostly from euthanized dogs and cats” but it does make one wonder.

    The FDA says this about pento in dog food
    “There appear to be associations between rendered or hydrolyzed ingredients and the presence of pentobarbital in dog food. The ingredients Meat and Bone Meal (MBM), Beef and Bone Meal (BBM), Animal Fat (AF), and Animal Digest (AD) are rendered or hydrolyzed from animal sources that could include euthanized animals.”

    They did, in another article, go on to say that they tested DNA and did not find dog, cat or horse DNA in the contaminated foods. Although I don’t really know for sure, I have to doubt that they use pento to euthanize cattle, pigs and chickens.

    This EPA article says independant rendering plants do obtain material from “animal shelters” but it specifically states that these products are used in cattle and chicken feeds. No mention of use in pet foods.
    “Independent plants obtain animal by-product materials, including grease, blood, feathers, offal, and entire animal carcasses, from the following sources: butcher shops, supermarkets, restaurants, fast-food chains, poultry processors, slaughterhouses, farms, ranches, feedlots, and animal shelters.”

  • aimee

    I’d strongly disagree that meat and bone meal is made mostly from euthanized dogs and cats for several reasons.

    1. While some companion animals remains may still be rendered isn’t the norm. On a practical level there is no where near the needed amount to supply manufacturing needs of the pet food industry.

    2. The FDA tested for dog and cat DNA in pet foods and never found any.

    3. A company itself may further define the item :

    “Meat & Bone Meal
    After beef or pork is processed for human consumption, a second
    process leaves a nutrient-rich source of protein and essential minerals
    (a good source of calcium and phosphorus). This all helps support strong
    muscles, bones and teeth.”

    Generic terms allow a manufacturer to blend different sources and/or alter the proportions of each ingredient based on purchase cost basis.

  • rpmdude

    No need to get snippy there Mike in Lacey, I wasn’t disputing your claim, just asking for a source. Sorry, but your personal experience is hearsay. To make the claim that . “Meat and Bone meal is made mostly from euthanized dogs and cats” is quite a claim. “Mostly” is the word that made the flag go up. It’s quite possible they DO use euthanized pets, but to say that the major ingredient in most dog foods is made “MOSTLY” from it is a bit much. Perhaps you meant to word that differently. Now, if you have a link to some serious investigation done by a reputable news group, or watch group, I’d love to see it.

  • Crazy4dogs

    Too funny Mike! Thanks for sharing! 😉

  • Mike in Lacey

    Not Allowed?
    This isn’t Human food now.
    Animal food is not governed by an agency unless it is being sold as human food.

  • Mike in Lacey

    Meat and Bone Meal is “Mystery Meat”
    Why are they intentionally not listing the animal the meat came from?

  • Mike in Lacey

    If it were Chicken, it would be listed as such. If it were Beef, again> listed as such. you can see where we could go on and on, Lamb, Venison, Rabbit, etc.
    Now, Meat and Bone Meal, could be road kill, could be dead horses, could be a lot of things, but I will tell you what its not> Animals they could have marketed to humans.
    Now, for your “Source”
    it is common knowledge if you just look, but let me point out 2 cases.
    #1, our family owned a Feed & Pet supply in So. California
    I had a discussion, where and older gent customer who in his years worked at dog food factories, and he told me some really horrible stories, both about Cats and Dogs he had to grind up fur & all, but another horrible story about grinding live horses on an industrial scale.
    #2, the same feed store, the Deputy Animal Control Officer was in the store and overheard me telling a customer about Meat and Bone Meal. She interrupted my conversation to tell me that was not true.
    I asked her if she had to euthanize animals, she said she did. I asked her “what do you do with the bodies”
    She said “Deep Freezer”
    when I asked her who removed them from the freezer, she said a truck came by once a week and picked them up> “To Where”
    She assumed to the Incinerator.
    I had her ask.
    She came back a couple weeks later and apologised to me, she said I was right, the driver said “I take them to the Meat and Bone Meal Factory”
    Why would anyone PAY to burn an animal, fuel costs for unwanted carcass? you need an economics lesson if you think they would spend money on that.

  • Mike in Lacey

    Crazy, I have never had the need personally. Our family owned a Feed and Pet supply in So. California and I got free high quality pet foods for free.
    Now, I told this trick to many of our customers, and they would see me around town, and stop me to tell me how accurate this test was.

  • rpmdude

    “Meat and Bone meal is made mostly from euthanized dogs and cats” .. Source please.

  • Crazy4dogs

    I don’t understand what your point is. This article is explaining exactly what meat meal is and explaining the difference between a named (i.e. turkey meal comes from turkey) vs unnamed or generic meat meal (i.e. poultry or meat and bone meal, etc). It isn’t recommending any particular brand, but advising to pick a food that has a named protein source.

  • If your pet is currently healthy and doing well- DON’t change their food.

  • Msw3681 sw

    Yes, you are right. My vet has strongly advise against raw food, particularly chicken or pork!! Bacteria affects dogs the same way it affects humans.

  • Loyd Christmas
  • Loyd Christmas
  • Loyd Christmas
  • Loyd Christmas
  • theBCnut

    Take out the unnecessary parts and you have “I hope… you… spell correctly.”. The word “will” may make you happy, but it isn’t grammatically necessary.

  • rcrm

    Read an article recently, think on Web MD, about raw dog foods not ever good because of the risk of bacteria born illnesses like ecoli and samonella. Feeding “raw” dog foods is a definite health risk.

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