Meat: Pet Food Ingredients A to Z

We now move to the letter “M” in our ingredient A to Z series and are featuring “Meat” as our ingredient of the day.

What is Meat?

Meat L

According to, the definition of Meat is: the flesh of animals as used for food.  According to the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO), which establishes dog and cat food nutritional guidelines, Meat is defined as the “clean flesh of slaughtered mammals and is limited to...the striate muscle...with or without the accompanying and overlying fat and the portions of the skin, sinew, nerve and blood vessels which normally accompany the flesh.”

Based on either of these definitions, it is not clear what protein source “Meat” is derived from.

Common names for Meat

The most common name variations for Meat include meat meal and meat by-product, both of which are more processed forms of meat.

Why is Meat included in pet food?

Meat is a cheap protein source that is included in lower quality pet food. Because it is not a specific protein, manufacturers can pick and choose the cheapest and lowest quality protein scraps available.  We highly recommend that you choose a food with a named protein (like beef, pork, salmon) and avoid foods that use generic proteins like Meat, animal, poultry, or fish.

Common benefits or risks of Meat

Benefits: Both dogs and cats are omnivorous (cats more so), thus, they thrive on a diet high in animal protein and fats.  Although non-specific, Meat is a rich source in protein and fat.

Risks: There are several risks to using a food that includes “Meat” as its protein source. First, it implies a lower quality ingredient.  If the manufacturer can’t be more specific, it raises a huge red flag warning.  Second, without a named protein source, you have no way to know if a food is appropriate for your pet if they have allergies or other medical issues.

Miscellaneous facts about Meat

  • The word Meat comes from the Old English word mete, which referred to food in general.
  • Meat generally refers to the flesh of mammals and not poultry or fish flesh.
  • Archie Bunker called his son-in-law “meat head”.

Sources and further reading


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