This is the first in a series of articles in which we’re going to shed the truth on the fresh meat used for pet food. And we’ll show how not everything is true… or not entirely.
The first thing we should do is to define what fresh meat is.
‘Fresh meat’ means meat that has not undergone any preserving process other than chilling, freezing or quick-freezing, including meat that is vacuum-wrapped or wrapped in a controlled atmosphere.
This is the definition found in Regulation (EC) 853/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 29 April 2004, laying down specific hygiene rules for food of animal origin. It means that the definition for human food is also applied to pet food.
If we’re guided by the definition, many of us will think: if the end product that my dog eats ??is processed, why on the label does it say fresh meat? Well, because we’re talking about the ingredients that are used before processing the food.
But, what would we include in this definition? Unfortunately, the regulation doesn’t specify, so it would include the animal’s flesh (what we all think of as meat), as well the internal organs and bones.
This legal loophole allowing bones, internal organs and meat to be ‘lumped together’ means that many companies take advantage of this, labelling their food as X% fresh meat when the muscular component is actually minimal.
When we see X% fresh meat on the packaging of pet food, we should keep on reading the label to find out whether it really is meat or whether there’s another type of animal by-product included.
An example that we should focus on is the percentage of ash or inorganic matter in the food. If it’s high, for example above 7% (the normal level is between 6 and 8.5%), this indicates that it has more bone (for example, companies that use whole chicken carcasses to produce their pet food). If, on the other hand, we see that the percentage of ash is low, but that the number of additives or dehydrated meat is very high, this shows that they use more internal organs than meat as such. In this case, to guarantee the level of protein that the animal needs, it must be supplemented with other types of ingredients, and said protein is unlikely to be of great nutritional value.
Here at Satisfaction, we use meat. The flesh is mechanically separated from the carcass, leaving only the muscle in the form of paste known as finely-textured meat. That’s what we use as fresh meat. What’s more, a small bit of chicken liver is used as a natural flavouring. That’s why our levels of ash or inorganic matter are minimal (6.2%) and why the protein that the animal consumes is of high biological value, because it really is meat.
So, my advice is not to think that one type of pet food will be better than another just because it has ‘fresh meat’, which may not be ‘fresh’ as such. What’s more, the biological value of the protein your animal eats is not the one you thought. That said, you’ll pay the same for this food as if you were actually giving your pet fresh meat.