Dried meat feed

Novadays there seems to be more and more dog food manufacturer that use a “dried meat”. This is air (not freeze) dried meat. See Orijen “1/3 of meats are air dried at 90°C from fresh chicken, turkey and fish to create a concentrated source of richly nourishing protein”. Have a look how Markus Muhle names its meat contens - “dried meat meal”.

I would think this dried meat is not the same as meat meal. I have seen several products that claim to contain high percentage of dried meat but their protein content does not correspond to protein content. This lead me to several questions:

  • Is this a commercial feed material?
    How much water does it contain?
    How is it produced?
    Is it conserved?

Is there any source to learn more about this “dried meat”?

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Hello and welcome to the forum, Perhaps you could contact the manufactures of the products you are unsure about. Maybe they would be able to answer your questions . They would probably be the best source of information.

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Champion manufacturered kibbles such as Orijen are manufactured at lower temperatures than most dry extruded products.

Their freeze dried range sold in smaller bags is made by a different process

Other brands like Ziwi Peak make air dried products. I would probably feed same if pricing was lower.

Cold pressed products are prepared using binding ingredients such as mineral clay so as to allow the individual nuggets/pellets/kibbles to bind, form and keep shape.


I always thought it was the same as “meat meal”, question of marketing as the term “Dried meat feed” sounds more attractive.

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The questions I have raised are exact and very important.

We know meat meal has standard water content of aprox. 8% and fresh meat 75%. I suppose water content in the dehydrated (dried) meat used as an component in the dry dog food can vary on a large scale. Each producer can dry meat to the extend he needs in order to pack into its product needed amount of meat.

If the water content of dried meat is not known it means it is not possible to calculate dry matter meat content. This would imply that meat content calculated on this site would not be correct and the 30% meat content sign would be obsolete.

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Hello 4max and welcome to the forum!

Having tried to post in the forum yesterday and being thwarted by a firewall issue :o which is now no longer an issue - thank you again David 8) - I’d like to mention the “FEDIAF Code of Good Labelling” which has the source of definition for dehydrated feed materials in pet food in referenced articles of EU legislation.

In section there is a specific requirement that if used in a dehydrated form, these are to be listed in order of weight before dehydration.

Also in the code there’s a detailed section headed " Justification of content claims, when using dehydrated components" including several examples and references giving specific information regarding dehydration in pet food manufacture.

The code is available to download from here: https://ec.europa.eu/digital-single-market/en/content/code-good-labelling-practice-pet-food

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Feed material definitions are in the FEDIAF code and the Food Standards Agency here https://www.food.gov.uk/business-industry/farmingfood/animalfeed/animalfeedlegislation may also be of help.

In the FEDIAF code there are also specific mentions of the definitions of moisture content in pet food.
One of the definitions regards “Dry pet food” states “Pet food with a moisture content of 14 % or less” and there are also definitions of moisture contents of moist/wet pet food and semi-moist pet food.

In addition to these definitions there are allowances (tolerances) of specific amounts of moisture above the stated amounts; and these vary in range too. So for example a moisture content of between 5% and 12.5% is allowed a tolerance of 1% above the stated % amount. Whereas a moisture content of between 2% and up to 5% can have up to a 20% tolerance. A moisture content of more that 12.5% can have a tolerance of 8%.

How is it produced? is likely better answered by the manufacturers directly as mentioned earlier in the posts, as they will have that information. In my experience there are manufacturers who offer visits to their manufacturing premises, and there are internet websites which demonstrate various pet food manufacturing processes.

Is it conserved? This is a question for the manufacturers methinks as I’m unaware of how (or indeed if) specific meats used by the manufacturers mentioned would be conserved.


Excellent discussion. Just to pick up on a couple of points:

In general, the term ‘dried meat’ refers to meat meal. The terms are used interchangeably. You can find out more about meat meal here. Having said that, the ‘dried meat’ in Orijen does appear to be something different but I will contact them directly to confirm.

To clarify, this only applies ‘when feed materials are used in concentrated or dehydrated form and are reconstituted at the time of manufacture’ - i.e. when dried ingredients are used in wet foods which isn’t that common. Otherwise, ingredients are always listed in order of weight at the start of manufacture (what’s called the ‘mixing bowl principle’).

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Yes absolutely, in the FEDIAF code, feed materials used in dehydrated form, (reconstituted at the time of manufacture) are listed in order of weight before dehydration. Words used to clearly indicate that the ingredient was dehydrated include for example “powder”, “dried”, “meal”.

As an interesting aside, ingredients that are dehydrated do appear to be popular in the manufacture of dog food and are currently used in wet foods and dry. In particular well known everyday vegetables, such as dried peas, potatos and carrots. There are also other interesting combinations appearing nowadays using dehydrated pomegranates and avocados, typically powdered.

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What was the answer from Orijen?

It seems from the discussion that there is not clear view what dried meat really is and that due to lack of exact definition it might be missused by producers.

For sure David will let us know when he hears back. :wink:

Meantime, if I’ve understood correctly the dried meat in the original question refers to air dried meat and the concern is how much moisture is ‘dried out’ of the meat during the air drying?

In addition to the FEDIAF Code definition of moisture content in dog food, including specifically allowable tolerances, perhaps this may be answered without specific percentages, yet rather, and in my view more importantly by reference to the nutritional basis of the food, to avoid doubt arising regarding whether the end product is indeed nutritionally sound for the health of our dogs.

The FEDIAF Nutritional Guidelines defines “minimum and maximum nutrient levels in commercial pet foods for healthy dogs and cats, to ensure adequate and safe nutrition” as well as “a safety margin to prevent deficiencies due to animal variations and nutrient interactions.” The levels reflect “the amounts of essential nutrients in commercial products that are required to ensure adequate and safe nutrition in healthy individuals when consumed over time.”

Notably “Pet foods can be adequate and safe when nutrient levels are outside the recommendations in this guide, based on the manufacturer’s substantiation of nutritional adequacy and safety”. In other words, to avoid ambiguity, (and to further reassure pet owners) manufacturers must have evidence of “nutritional adequacy and safety” if their food differs from the nutrient levels mentioned in these FEDIAF Nutritional Guidelines.

Here is the link to download the May 2017 version: http://www.fediaf.org/self-regulation/nutrition/

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I certainly will. Nothing yet I’m afraid

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A bit late to the party but glad I found this thread as this is a subject that I have raised privately with David. From what I understand, rehydration factors are a very grey area and is something that I believe are being unfairly exploited to mislead customers. I have been told that, legally speaking, it’s not quite as straight forward as you say David and there are some instances where manufacturers can use the rehydrated weights for dry foods too.

I’m really glad 4max raised the quoted point above. Everything David and allaboutdogfood do is great - the pet food industry is a bit of a mine field and anybody helping educate and guide consumers are doing a great service so please do not take this as a criticism in any way (I know we’ve discussed this privately before and I know you’re doing more behind the scenes) but we have to look at more than just ingredients lists and I’m glad that David is working on a new improved algorithm to incorporate other factors. If a product has a very high meat content but low protein then ask why? Is the claimed meat percentage accurate? If so then what does that tell you about the quality of the meat being used?

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I would like to add some more facts to this discussion.

The EU regulation Commission Regulation (EU) No 142/2011 of 25 February 2011 (http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/ALL/?uri=CELEX:32011R0142) allow producers to use dried or fermented meat feed so in the fact they can design dry meat of own quality standard - see below:

Chapter II
if authorised by the competent authority, be subject to a treatment such as drying or fermentation, which ensures that the petfood poses no unacceptable risks to public and animal health;

Now have a look at this declaration Eden 80/20 Original Cuisine Dog Food, Allaboutdogfood rating 5.

Producer declare 80% meat and 20% vegetables and fruit.
This is declaration:
Freshly Prepared Chicken 19%, Dried Chicken 18%, Freshly Prepared Salmon 15%, Dried Herring 12.5%, Sweet Potato 12%, Chicken Fat 4.5%, Dried Duck 4%, Tapioca 3.5%, Whole Egg 2.5%, Chicken Liver 2.5%, White Fish 2%, Pea Fibre 2%,

If you calculate all types of meat fresh and dryied you come to 73%. If you add egg and chicken fat you are at 80%.

Now if the dried food would have 10% of moisture the food would have much over 80%. So I understand that in this declaration dried food have actually the same amout of water as fresh meat otherwise something in the declaration is wrong.

Same as Carra-Pet Foods I value the work of Allaboutdogfood and this should help to come to more clear opinion.

I hope David will have some clarifications to this.

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To specifically answer the moisture levels of dehydrated ingredients (including meat) the code (mentioned previously) in the section on “Justification of content claims, when using dehydrated components” specifically states that "… moisture level must be based on officially published literature. " . And helpfully gives basic examples of indicative values such as 90% for vegetables (i.e. 10% dry matter), 75% for meat/fish/crustacean components (i.e. 25% dry matter) and 15% for cereals (i.e. 85% dry matter).

For specific rehydration factors we are referred to data such as “McCance and Widdowson’s Composition of Foods” which may be downloaded from here: http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20101209132841/http://www.food.gov.uk/science/dietarysurveys/dietsurveys/

Equally we may be supplied the specific rehydration information from whosoever has produced the food; as all claims made must legally be justified regarding food content.

To explain further… the maths would be as follows: once the rehydration ratio is worked out ie 75% for meat/fish then it becomes reasonably easy to work out the rehydrated weight within a recipe, simply by dividing the dry weight basis by the rehydration factor.
So as an example if a feed ingredient of meat is declared on a dry weight basis as 21.8. We then work out the rehydration ratio of (taking the indicative value of) 75% and turn this into a 100%-75%=25%=0.25. We then divide 21.8 by 0.25 to give us the answer of a rehydration weight in the recipe of 87.2 for that ingredient.

Thank you for your information. Unfortunatelly the infos didn´t help to clarify my questions.

Meat component content 25% dry matter. I suppose it means fresh meat. OK?

Meat meal component in the dry food content 8 - 10% of water. Is this right?

From your explanation I understand that dry meat should be recalculated into fresh meat? with rehydratation ratio 75% (i.e. putting into ingredient 75% water). However, this would mean that dry meat component declared in the ingredient statement is completedly dry (dry matter). Is all what I said correct?

Let me use you calculation sample to calculate meat Eden meat content.

Freshly Prepared Chicken 19%, Freshly Prepared Salmon 15%, Chicken Liver 2.5%, White Fish 2%, total = 38,5% i.e. 38,5g
Dried Chicken 18%, Dried Herring 12.5%, Dried Duck 4%, total = 34,5 devided by rehydration factor 0,25 = 138% i.e. 138g
Final figure is 138.5 I do not see any relation to 80% of meat content in the Eden food. How do you come to the result that the above meat content is 80% of total?

These are remining ingredients: Sweet Potato 12%, Chicken Fat 4.5%, Tapioca 3.5%, Whole Egg 2.5%, Pea Fibre 2%, Lucerne, Chickpea, Minerals & Vitamins, Carrot, Spinach, Apple, Rosehips, Camomile, Burdock Root, Seaweed, Cranberry, Aniseed & Fenugreek, Fructooligosaccharides (461 mg/kg), Glucosamine (341mg/kg), MSM (341mg/kg), Chondroitin (240mg/kg), Thyme, Marjoram, Oregano, Parsley, Sage.

Eden declare 80% meat and 20% vegetables and fruit.
Is chicken fat meat? Egg is whether meat nor vegetables. Where to put the chicken Fat 4.5%, Whole Egg 2.5%, into meat?
Is ingredients list clear and does not leave room for missinterpretation?

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@Meg Thank you for your information. Unfortunatelly the infos didn´t help to clarify my questions.

Yet hopefully have helped to explain how the rehydrated weights are achieved :wink: - by using a rehydration ratio which is what I was led to believe was being asked here:

I suppose water content in the dehydrated (dried) meat used as an component in the dry dog food can vary on a large scale. Each producer can dry meat to the extend he needs in order to pack into its product needed amount of meat.
…if I’ve understood correctly that is… and the answer is that there are specifically defined moisture levels, which must be based on “officially published literature”, ergo a link to the McCance and Widdowson’s databases.

The ingredients which make up a food will add up to 100(%) . Dry weight ingredients using the appropriate rehydration ratio would give a rehydrated weight greater than their original dry weight.

In a nutshell yes this means that all the rehydrated weights will be greater than the original dry weights and so added together with any of the ingredients that have not been rehydrated, will be greater than 100.

As an aside, if a recipe has a larger percentage of dried cereals followed by a smaller percentage of dried meat it follows that using rehydration ratios of 0.85% and 0.25% respectively would give results with the meat of a greater rehydrated weight than the cereal.

I’d suggest contacting Eden directly and ask them to explain:

Is ingredients list clear and does not leave room for missinterpretation?
and also I’d ask what rehydration ratios (if any) they are using per ingredient.

Thank you Meg for your explanations. However, the questions were not answered.
You are using a lot of words in order to explain a few simple questions. I am very sorry and I appologise but I have got an impression that your replies remind me the comunication of pet food producers.

Hopely I didn´t oversee something but I didnt find any post regarding meat meal and dried or dehydrated meat in the literature that you recomended “McCance and Widdowson’s Composition of Foods”.

Maybe there is someone else who can simply explain my questions from the post

I apologise if you feel my answers are using a lot of words and are not answering your questions.

As frustrating as this is (wearing my “cone of shame, many words” hat… ) I realise you are asking these questions generically rather than specifically regarding an individual food. With that in mind I wonder if perhaps questions regarding Eden food might be answered in a clearer way by an Eden pet food producer?

Thank you for contributing to this informative and interesting subject. I have asked David to take a look at the thread because it seems to require his expertise. He will be doing this, but probably not for a few days. Perhaps we could wait for his contribution and then continue the discussion?