Have you ever wondered how a can of dog food or cat food that includes chunks of meat inside only costs $0.89? The secret to the low price is in the chunks.
A popular brand of dog food boasts ‘choice’ and ‘cuts’ on the label. Its beef flavored. The label of the can shows a picture of large chunks of raw meat as well as what appears to be the cooked chunks of meat. However it only costs $0.89 for a 13.2 ounce can. How can they do that? Open a can of dog food or cat food, dump it out onto a plate, and you’ve got a plate full of meat, right? Maybe not.
Actual canned grocery store dog food
This picture is of this grocery store brand dog food, about 1/3 of the can on a plate. The 13.2 ounce can (large can) cost $.89.
This photo of the dog food label clearly shows ‘chunks’ of lean raw meat, along with the cooked version of the dog food. The words ‘Cuts’ and ‘Beef’ are boldly stated on the label.
This $.89 can of dog food, which appears to contain chunks of meat in gravy, breaks down to $.07 per ounce and $1.12 per pound. A can of beef (people food) in natural juices from Internet Grocer costs $.46 per ounce or $7.36 per pound. http://www.internet-grocer.net/realmeat.htm
Many pet owners believe without question, the ‘chunks’ are meat in these dog foods. The thought of why it would cost a mere $.89 for a 13.2 ounce can doesn’t even enter their consciousness; perhaps justifiably so because of the dog food label pictures and wording on the label. However, the truth is that this dog food, which appears to be a can full of chunks of cooked beef, has very little beef in it at all.
The little understood secret of pet food is the ‘chunks’ are NOT actual chunks of meat, they are ground up animal parts (perhaps rejected for use in human food) glued together with wheat glutens to make the appearance of chunks of meat. The chunks in some pet food (certainly this $.89 can of dog food) are not chunks of meat, and they may or may not contain any actual meat.
The ingredients of this dog food (and so should the cost) will tell a pet owner the true story. Ingredients…”water, chicken, meat by-products, wheat flour, beef, wheat gluten…”
Important things to notice of these ingredients:
- Chicken is listed higher on the ingredient list than beef, yet the food is a Beef dog food.
- Ingredient chicken is the entire bird (less head, feet, and entrails); it may or may not be human grade, includes bones and internal organs. The ‘chicken’ is ground whole. Thus the chunks cannot be chicken meat.
- Meat by-products can be the discarded left-overs from any animal, by definition this is not meat and is not human grade. Again, ingredient is ground; chunks cannot be chicken meat.
- There is more wheat flour, by weight, in this can of dog food than beef! Yet the food is named ‘Beef’. (Do you realize how much flour it takes to weight more than meat?)
So, the chicken, meat by-products, and beef are finely ground, toss in a great deal of wheat flour and wheat gluten to glue it all together, and press the concoction into chunks. Presto – pretend meat chunks to confuse (or mislead depending on how you look at it) unknowing pet owners!
Here is a close up image of a ‘chunk’ cut apart.
When you look at the chunks closely, it has the appearance of meat loaf (I prefer to call it mystery meat loaf).
This pet food, a ‘beef’ pet food, contains more chicken, by-products, and flour than beef. The photograph on the product label shows choice cuts of raw beef along with a picture similar to the ‘cooked’ chunks shown above, heavily implying the ‘chunks’ are cooked beef. The product label also states ‘cuts’; again, implying cuts of meat are included in this food. The chunks probably only contain a very small portion of actual meat; the dogs that consumes this food is eating lots of flour and gluten. This can of beef cuts in gravy dog food sells for $.07 an ounce versus $.46 an ounce for human grade canned beef in natural juices.
By the way, these types of tricks happen every single day with pet foods. Even though if a human food did the same, advertising regulations would stop them immediately and despite Food Drug and Cosmetic Act laws that clearly state any food label (human or pet) is NOT allowed to mislead the consumer.
Want to see the process (or a similar process) of how these pretend meat chunks are made? Wheatex, an imitation meat product, is utilized by human and pet foods alike. Science has developed this product to look and taste exactly like meat. Here’s a video from How Stuff Works explaining Wheatex ‘meat’… http://videos.howstuffworks.com/discovery/35505-howstuffworks-show-episode-7-wheatex-video.htm
While some canned dog foods and cat foods actually DO contain slices or chunks of USDA human grade beef or chicken, many others only imply they do. Read the pet food ingredient label; if you see flour and gluten ingredients, and/or if the can costs far less than what any meat costs today, you can guess the ‘chunks’ are not meat.
By the way…did you notice the little mystery ingredient in the second picture of the dog food?
While it looks similar to a kernel of corn in the picture, it looked extremely disgusting in person (it gave me the creeps). As soon as I knew I had acceptable pictures of the mystery meat chunks dog food, the entire contents of the can was tossed (no pets were harmed in taking these pictures).
Wishing you and your pet(s) the best,
Pet Food Safety Advocate
Author, Buyer Beware
Co-Author Dinner PAWsible
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