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Real Meat or Fake Meat Pet Food? Consumers Should be Told


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  1. Simon S.

    “…that sells at retail for $0.30 or $0.40 an ounce…”, is that a typo? That would mean a 12.7 ounce can costing between
    $3.81 and $5.08 would be suspect? This is the price range for ultra premium canned dog food. Just checking……

    1. Susan Thixton Author

      I used small cans (cat food) for the price estimate – per ounce they were around $0.30 an ounce and included multiple binder ingredients I suspect are fabricated meat. The problem is, any food could regardless of price could be using an extruded meat. We just don’t know.

  2. Jane Eagle

    Since FDA does not even require manufacturers to disclose that their product is made with rotting meat, moldy grains and spoiled vegetables, I doubt if they will care about this, either.
    FDA is a huge waste of our tax dollars.

  3. Sherrie Ashenbremer

    I agree with Jane Eagle, the FDA is a useless. Look how many mistakes they have made with medicine for humans. I don’t trust the FDA at all.
    Fake meat, really? Why in the world do we have to have fake meat. Is our world becoming so money hungry
    and ruled by the almighty dollar that we have to have fake meat?? That is awful. How can we tell if the dog food fake meat or real meat. I feed my dogs Orijen, is that good?
    I am thinking of switching to Darwin’s or Stella & Chewys dog food.
    One more thing to worry about.

  4. Marsha

    What they are using in fake meat is called TVP. Textured Vegetable Protein. It has been used in school for at least 25 years or so. The children can tell the difference, and have called it fake meat for years. they do not eat much of anything in the way of meats at schools now.

    1. Elizabeth Marquez

      This is so disturbing, I hate the FDA! Everyone knows they get paid big bucks by these corporations to ignore all the disgusting practices that go on in the pet food industry. I think we should all make our dog’s food, at least we have more control of what they are eating. I already do. Hit then in the pocket book, then maybe they will start to listen. The FDA needs to do their job, what the hell, feeding our kids fake meat too, unbelievable!

  5. Sherrie Ashenbremer

    They used fake meat in schools? So when I kid ordered a hamburger in a public school cafeteria they are not getting real hamburger? Oh dear God. I had no idea. I just figure a hamburger is a hamburger is a hamburger. Oh wow, guess the jokes on me. I think that is horrible, fake meat! Horrible in any food

    1. Deep Search

      No. There’s plenty of hotdogs, chicken burritos, fish sticks, hamburgers and etc in public school cafeterias. Not exactly the healthiest choice cuts, but it’s meat. If I’d been a vegetarian in high school I’d have been hard pressed to find a complete meal. Meat analogs have been around forever if you consider tempeh, tofu, and seitan, but I never once saw any soy sausage or anything while in school. That’s hardly what people should be worried about.

  6. Heather

    @Sherrie – “fake meat” (either vital wheat gluten or TVP) are not horrible in any food. I have been vegan for most of my life thus the above products are great protein sources for humans who choose not to eat animals. The brand Susan video linked, Beyond Meat, is an ethical company utilizing such ingredients for (human) non-meat eaters.

    The problem and point here is, if it is in pet food the consumer should be informed. We should not be duped into thinking we’re purchasing what may look like animal flesh when it is actually (more) a plant-based pet food.

    It’s about transparency and legit information regarding ingredients, not so much the fact it’s a meat analogue.

    1. Deep Search

      Yes. I wish the chicken nuggets I ate in school had been TVP and soy rather than”pink slime,” but of course they weren’t. Fearing fake meat reminds me of the urban legends about fast food places not using real meat in their food. “If it’s not meat, what is it? Used napkins? Sawdust…? Vegetables!?”

      I always likened the mechanically shaped square hunks and tidbits of meaty things in canned food to wet kibble. It is possible to find brands of flaked/morsel canned and pouch foods that are primarily meat, but if there are a lot of plant based ingredients on the label one is left guessing how much of it is veg and how much is meat. Seems that unless it is listed on the product how much of the food is actually meat/fish/egg compared to what is plant origin one can’t know.

  7. Nora

    The almighty dollar rules the world. Your pets r better off eating table scraps or homemade raw. Buy ground chicken, sardines (really cheap) in a can, ground beef, etc. it’s all cheaper and your fur buddies r getting the real thing. My cat is not just surviving…she is thriving on people food…of course, that which is suitable for a carnivore. It’s a no brainer! The FDA and all pet food companies would go out of business if we all just go back to what Mother Nature intended for our pets. Processed food isn’t good for us humans either. It’s easy to freeze meal sized portions for a cat or dog. I can get a huge bag of chicken hearts for a pittance. My cat loves them and I freeze enough for one meal and alternate with other “human” food. The list goes on.

  8. Deep Search

    Yeah, looking at the ingredients will tell someone if the meat in a can or pouch is actually meat or a meat/veg product. A can of shredded chicken cat food that is chicken and gravy with small quantities of oil, a binder and vitamins is going to simply be nearly all meat and liquid. A can of “morsels in gravy” that contains vegetable proteins, peas or potaotes is going to be meat and veg pressed together to make those little rectangle meaty bits. The cheaper foods use wheat gluten and soy protein in order to skimp on meat, obviously. If you can’t see any of the vegetable ingredients in the food, it’s in the meat chunks.

  9. Regina

    Susan, this reminds me of a post you did a few months back, about the purina “broths” products. Consumers were led to believe that it was pieces of real meat or fish, in broth. But you pointed out all of the other ingredients in the products, which meant that those slivers of meat were not actually “real” meat.

    But ill-informed consumers just look at the front of the label and foolishly believe the deception.

    I have heard people commenting about how good purina pro plan is, with its shredded pieces of real chicken in the dry food. Those shredded pieces are NOT meat! If you break a piece up with your fingers you will find it is very much like a bread product.
    Yet people just believe the perception that the front of the bag portrays, and don’t look at the ingredients which will show a lot of grains . . . which is how bread products are made!

    I seriously doubt that you will get any decent response to your queries, Susan. The sad fact is we who really care about what out furry children eat seem to be in the minority, an thus not worth their time?

    1. Jane Democracy

      Look closely at the freeze dried stuff that is being added to “high end” brands as well.

      Processed human food (and pet food too), as well as all prepackaged products from food to shampoo are one huge marketing gimmick that we as consumers lap up as truth. Grain Free and Gluten Free are a few that come to mind. These are 2 of the biggest hoaxes we have ever been fed as consumers.

      We need to start thinking about what we are eating and why we need to or don’t need to eat it Instead we reach for the packaged junk because we our too busy, lazy or have some crazy notion that somehow our governments have endless supplies of cash to to test every single thing for every possible problem. Imagine what the cost of food and our taxes would be if we demanded that this should happen.

  10. Jane Democracy

    We also need to understand the world demand for protein. Humans have become protein pigs, we consume massive amounts of meat in the developed world. We also have more and more family pets that also require protein. Meat based protein takes a lot of resources and space to grow. Not to mention people don’t like the large scale production model that has to occur these days in order to feed the population. It is only understandable that we will have to look for alternate sources of protein.

    1. Susan Thixton Author

      I don’t necessarily have an issue with ‘alternate sources of protein’ – I do have a problem with non-disclosure of those ‘alternate sources’ to the consumer. Including fabricated meat without disclosure to the consumer is in essence lying to the consumer. I think most consumers just want transparency.

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