Chef Michael’s Dog Food gets the Advisor’s lowest rating of 1 star.
The Chef Michael’s product line includes two dry dog foods, both meeting AAFCO nutrient profiles for adult maintenance.
The following is a list of recipes available at the time of this review.
- Chef Michael’s Grilled Sirloin Steak Flavor
- Chef Michael’s Oven Roasted Chicken Flavor
Chef Michael’s Grilled Sirloin Steak Flavor was selected to represent both products in the line for this review.
Chef Michael's Grilled Sirloin Steak Flavor
Dry Dog Food
Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content
Ingredients: Beef, soybean meal, soy flour, animal fat preserved with mixed-tocopherols (form of vitamin E), brewers rice, soy protein concentrate, corn gluten meal, ground yellow corn, glycerin, poultry by-product meal, ground wheat, animal digest, pearled barley, calcium carbonate, calcium phosphate, salt, grilled sirloin steak flavor, dried green beans, dried potatoes, sulfur, vitamin E supplement, choline chloride, zinc sulfate, ferrous sulfate, added color (red 40, blue 2, yellow 5, yellow 6), niacin, wheat flour, potassium chloride, l-lysine monohydrochloride, manganese sulfate, vitamin A supplement, calcium pantothenate, thiamine mononitrate, copper sulfate, riboflavin supplement, vitamin B12 supplement, pyridoxine hydrochloride, garlic oil, vitamin D3 supplement, folic acid, calcium iodate, menadione sodium bisulfite complex (source of vitamin K activity), biotin, sodium selenite
Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 3.4%
Red items when present indicate controversial ingredients
|Estimated Nutrient Content|
|Dry Matter Basis||32%||18%||42%|
|Calorie Weighted Basis||27%||38%||36%|
The first ingredient is beef. Although it’s a quality item, raw beef contains about 80% water. After cooking, most of that moisture is lost, reducing the meat content to just a fraction of its original weight.
After processing, this item would probably account for a smaller part of the total content of the finished product.
The second ingredient is soybean meal. Soybean meal is relatively useful by-product — what remains of soybeans after all the oil has been removed.
Although soybean meal contains 48% protein, this ingredient would be expected to have a lower biological value than meat.
And less costly plant-based products like this can notably boost the total protein reported on the label — a factor that must be considered when judging the actual meat content of this dog food.
The third ingredient is soy flour, a high-protein by-product of soybean processing.
Soy flour would be expected to have a notably lower biological value than meat and can notably boost the total protein reported on the label — a factor that must also be considered when judging the actual meat content of this dog food.
The fourth ingredient includes animal fat. Animal fat is a generic by-product of rendering, the same high-temperature process used to make meat meals.
Since there’s no mention of a specific animal, this item could come from almost anywhere: roadkill, spoiled supermarket meat, dead, diseased or dying cattle — even euthanized pets.
For this reason, we do not consider generic animal fat a quality ingredient.
The fifth ingredient is brewers rice. Brewers rice is a cereal grain by-product consisting of the small fragments left over after milling whole rice. Aside from the caloric energy it contains, this item is of only modest nutritional value to a dog.
By the way, contrary to popular belief, brewers rice has nothing to do with the process of brewing beer.
The sixth ingredient is soy protein concentrate, what remains of soybeans after removing the water soluble carbohydrates from the beans.
Even though it contains over 80% protein, this ingredient would be expected to have a lower biological value than meat and can notably boost the total protein reported on the label.
The seventh ingredient is corn gluten meal, yet another plant-based protein booster. Gluten is the rubbery residue remaining once corn has had most of its starchy carbohydrate washed out of it.
The eighth item is corn. Corn is an inexpensive and controversial cereal grain which — aside from its energy content — is of only modest nutritional value to a dog.
For this reason, we do not consider corn a preferred component in any dog food.
After glycerin, we find poultry by-product meal, a dry rendered product of slaughterhouse waste. It’s made from what’s left of slaughtered poultry after all the prime cuts have been removed.
In a nutshell, poultry by-products are those unsavory and inedible leftovers deemed “unfit for human consumption”.
In addition to organs (the nourishing part), this stuff can contain almost anything — feet, beaks, undeveloped eggs — anything except quality skeletal muscle (real meat).
We consider poultry by-products slightly lower in quality than a single-species ingredient (like chicken by-products).
On the brighter side, by-product meals are meat concentrates and contain nearly 300% more protein than fresh poultry.
Next, we find wheat. Wheat is another cereal grain and subject to the same issues as corn (previously discussed).
From here, the list goes on to include a number of other items.
But to be realistic, ingredients located this far down the list (other than nutritional supplements) are not likely to affect the overall rating of this product.
With six notable exceptions…
First, we find animal digest. Animal digest is a chemically hydrolyzed mixture of animal by-products that is usually sprayed onto the surface of a dry kibble to improve its taste.
Next, we’re always disappointed to find artificial coloring in any dog food. Coloring is used to make the product more appealing to you, not your dog. After all, do you really think your dog cares what color his kibble is?
Thirdly, garlic oil may be a controversial item. We say “may be” here because we are not certain of the oil’s chemical relationship to raw garlic itself.
Although most experts favor the ingredient for its numerous health benefits, garlic (in rare cases) has been linked to Heinz body anemia in dogs.1
However, the limited professional literature we surveyed provided no definitive warnings regarding the use of garlic — especially when used in small amounts (as it likely is here).
Next, this recipe also contains menadione, a controversial form of vitamin K linked to liver toxicity, allergies and the abnormal break-down of red blood cells.
Since vitamin K isn’t required by AAFCO in either of its dog food nutrient profiles, we question the use of this substance in any canine formulation.
Additionally, we find no mention of probiotics, friendly bacteria applied to the surface of the kibble after processing to help with digestion.
And lastly, the minerals listed here do not appear to be chelated. And that can make them more difficult to absorb. Non-chelated minerals are usually associated with lower quality dog foods.
Chef Michael’s Dog Food
The Bottom Line
Judging by its ingredients alone, Chef Michael’s looks like a below-average dry dog food.
But ingredient quality by itself cannot tell the whole story. We still need to estimate the product’s meat content before determining a final rating.
And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 57%.
Above-average protein. Above-average fat. And below-average carbs when compared to a typical dry dog food.
When you consider the protein-boosting effect of the soybean meal, soy protein concentrate and corn gluten meal, this looks like the profile of a kibble containing only a modest amount of meat.
Chef Michael’s is a plant-based dry dog food using a modest amount of beef and chicken as its main sources of animal protein, thus earning the brand 1 star.
Please note certain recipes are sometimes given a higher or lower rating based upon our estimate of their total meat content.
A Final Word
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Notes and Updates
04/02/2010 Original review
09/11/2010 Review updated
06/06/2012 Review updated
12/21/2013 Review updated
12/21/2013 Last Update
- Yamato et al, Heinz Body hemolytic anemia with eccentrocytosis from ingestion of Chinese chive (Allium tuberosum) and garlic (Allium sativum) in a dog, Journal of the American Animal Hospital Association 41:68-73 (2005) ↩