Keeping dogs out of vets since 2011

More stealth labelling techniques by the industry: Is it meal or not?!

Bakers Complete Meaty Meals Small Dog Beef 1Kg

I was in with a vet some weeks ago, doing a friendly bit of nutritional re-education. A question popped up about Nestlé Purina’s new way of stating how much meat is in their dry food…

This was a new one to me but then, let’s face it, only a fool would say they were on top of all the shenanigans in labelling requirements in Pet Food Land. Let’s take Bakers Complete (the UK’s favourite complete dry food, if you can believe) “Meaty Meals” as an example of the most recent trick. This product is 15% “meat”, specifically “meat and animal derivatives”, which is their way of saying a mix of animal material arrived to their plant and they’ve no idea what it specifically was.

Bakers Complete Meaty Meals Small Dog Beef 1Kg

The ingredients read as follows:

Cereals, Meat and Animal Derivatives (15%,1), Vegetable Protein Extracts, Oils and Fats, Glycerol, Propylene Glycol, Minerals
(1. Equivalent to 30% Rehydrated Meat and Animal Derivatives, with min. 4% Beef and min. 26% Meat)

And the product is described as:

  • 25% smaller meaty chunks
  • Tender meaty chunks
  • Full of meaty taste – none of the mess!
  • 100% balanced & complete
  • Delicious meaty chunks for great enjoyment

If we deal first with the description, it is hillarious on all counts! The label specifically says 15% “meat and animal derivatives” and in the description now it’s 25% “tender, meaty chunks” for “great enjoyment”. I’m not sure who they think enjoys this or if they compare the enjoyment factor to say a dog eating a sausage?! Perhaps they mean 25% of the kibble is smaller pieces of cereal-based kibble with a bit more water, making it more meat-like? How do make some of the kibble hold more water in this product, giving it that desirable meat-like appearance? Propylene glycol (the chemical used in anti-freeze). Lots and lots of propylene glycol. When we know a moderate amount of this substance can cause all sorts of issues in humans ranging from acidosis, Central Nervous System depression, coma, hypoglycemia, seizures, and hemolysis, we are left asking, how much is safe in pets? Or even, how much of this stuff are they consuming per day?! You won’t know, as with cereal and carb content, the dose isn’t mentioned.

The questions the young vet had was in relation to the second line of the ingredients – how can it be 15% meat and then “equivalent to 30% rehydrated meat”.

What’s happening here is that they have included their meat and animal derivatives in the form of meat-meal without specifically stating it as such.

I contacted Nestle Purina about this very point. They got back to me with a bit of a convoluted answer that ended by explaining to me that it was meat “in it’s concentrated form”. Yep, no idea either. So I pushed them, is it meat meal or not? They replied:

…yes this is another way of saying ‘meat meal’ as meat meal is a dried end-product of the cooking process known as rendering.

Now that that’s established you may be wondering why they try so hard to hide that fact. The problem for pet food manufacturers in the lower end is that nobody wants to be giving meat meal anymore, it’s just so damn cheap the industry is addicted to it. Sadly for them, the public is cottoning on to how dreadfully poor a “meat” source this stuff is and is trying to avoid it in products (learn more about the origins of meat meal here). So pet food manufacturers (and their “regulators”, learn more about pet food regulation here) are permitting some label changes to be made. For example, instead of stating “beef meal”, manufacturers are now allowed to say “dehydrated beef”. While most of us associate dehydration with gentle water removal, a brilliant if an expensive way of preserving treats, you have to give it to them, it sounds much nicer this way. Who said you can’t polish a turd?!

They then add on the “rehydrated” bit underneath the ingredients as, presumably being a powder, it has the water removed. If you were to add the water back into it, making it look like “real” meat again (which is 60-70% water), then your 15% of meat meal is actually the same as if they used 30% “meat”! This reads a bit more impressive now.

Do you follow? If you don’t, don’t worry, that’s the general idea.

They are drawing your attention to the fact that the meat used was a dry ingredient. What they’re not doing is drawing your attention to the fact that maybe 50% of this product is DRY cereals (we don’t know for sure as they don’t have to state cereal or carbohydrate content on their labels, that would benefit them in any way whatsoever).

You have to hand it to them, what balls to not “re-hydrate” all the cereal flour back to its original form and telling customers how much cereal is in it! But don’t think for a second this is all that’s going on.

The pet food industry uses so many tricks to get garbage into their product they should be on Penn and Teller Fool Us…

Recently, Truth About Pet Food reported a veterinarian who was concerned that pet food labels might not accurately disclose the exact ingredients used in the pet food asked the FDA what is the required time frame a pet food manufacturer is required to alert the public to a change in the ingredient listing on a pet food label AFTER they had done so. The FDA responded

…firms should update labels as soon as practical. The FDA does not provide a set timeframe.

Right, I’m sure they’ll oblige immediately with the FDA breathing down their neck!

Another post by the wonderful Susan Thixton shows that they’re also trying to sort out the hassle that comes with their use of “human grade” meat ingredients. They want to state that, of course, but if they do they automatically have the USDA coming in and sniffing around their premises. You see, the USDA do actually inspect premises. Considering the absolute state of the US meat sector, you wouldn’t think this would be too scary but when you want in to include ingredients that are next to hazardous sewerage, it’s a worry. So, manufacturers, using their cash-rich lobby, are campaigning to get the term “edible” removed from the definition of Human Grade pet food. If they do, the link to the USDA is removed and the requirement to be manufactured under their inspection moves to the FDA who inspect your premises on average every ten years.

More pet food labelling tricks here. It’s literally endless.

Dr Dzanis
Dr. David Dzanis of Regulatory Discretion, the guy who submitted the proposal to the AAFCO Pet Food Committee requesting changes in the definition of Human Grade pet food.

So, we are left asking ourselves, is this meat meal or not?

I’m not tooting my own horn here guys but I’m good at reading pet food labels and seeing through the BS. I’ve been doing it for years. There’s a really easy way to tell if you’re reading utter BS and it’s this – if it’s written on a pet food label, your stance should be it’s utter BS until they can demonstrate otherwise. But even I’m struggling to understand what’s going on here. What hope has the average consumer? None.

What I do know is that this product constitutes lots of cereal, some mystery meat and a total and utter waste of your money and their health.



For more on the fantastic bit of BS used by the industry, check out:

What Does Scientifically Proven Actually Mean in Pet Food Land?

More BS from the industry: Why the Pet Food Industry says it uses so many cheap carbohydrates in their pet food

Look how many meaningless buzzwords one company is prepared to ram into their label

Share This Article

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on whatsapp
Share on email


Need Advice?

1-to-1 Online Consultations

Should you need a little hand holding, I’m here to help. Consultations are typically 1 hour in length: 15 minutes to read your presubmitted questionnaire and prepare for your pet, 30-40 minutes with you directly via Zoom / Skype and 10-15 minutes to write your summary email, including all necessary tips and their diet plan. It also includes a follow up email should you need it.


"Finally! A well-written, well-referenced thorough examination of the raw dog food debate. A fantastic gift for your favourite veterinarian."
Dr. Karen Becker


For the most up-to-date advice, support, tips and ticks from Dr. Brady and his team, please subscribe below .

Related Articles

Torn ACL in Dogs
Dog Health

Torn ACL in Dogs: Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment & Cost

So what is the ACL, and where is a dog’s ACL? The ACL (Anterior Cruciate Ligament) is located in the centre of the knee (stifle) and is responsible for stabilising the hind leg when the dog is straightening, bending or rotating the leg.  In this article, we will be discussing: What is an ACL tear

Read More »
symptoms of bloat in dogs
Raw dog food

Bloat in Dogs: Causes and What to Look Out For

Bloat with torsion in dogs is a scary, painful, often life threatening and all too common occurrence in large, deep chested dogs . As the science is yet to pin a definite culprit, there is a lot of confusion. In this extensive review piece I present the most up to date thinking on the matter and make some important dietary recommendations for at-risk dog owners.

Read More »
Raw dog food

Everything About Raw

Everything You Need To Know Abut Raw Dog Food In Ten Minutes… Below is a short summary on ten key articles in raw feeding. Each article is linked out to the larger article should you fancy doing a little more research. What do dogs eat? What is raw dog food? The benefits of feeding raw

Read More »
How Much Raw Food Should I Feed My Dog
Raw dog food

How Much Raw Foods Should I Feed My Dog? Dog Food Calculator

Initially, moving to a raw diet for your dog can seem a little tricky. One of the most likely questions when shifting to raw dog food is how much should I feed my dog? The answer can be simple (2.5% of his body weight per day, if an adult) but thereafter the figure varies depending

Read More »
What causes yeast Infection In Dogs
Dog Health

Yeast Infection In Dogs: Causes, Treatments, Foods To Avoid

Extreme itchy and irritated skin with a foul odour can indicate a yeast infection. This is a very common problem in particularly dry-fed dogs today.  Yeast infections in dogs are highly uncomfortable and over time they can cause severe damage to the affected areas. Knowing how to treat yeast infections in dogs is thus a

Read More »
Raw dog food

A Fairly Thorough Review of Hemp, CBD and Ending With Advice for Pets

To understand where we are with CBD, why mothers have to walk the length of Ireland to get permission to use a herbal product that prevented epilepsy in her child suffering 300 back-breaking and life-endangering seizures a month, an entirely natural product that is supported massively by the science as beneficial in the treatment of

Read More »