When pet food companies have a protein as the first ingredient in a completely dried food it is as a result of misleading labeling. The ingredient is either loaded with moisture or subject to extreme ingredient splitting to push it to the top.
Let me explain both approaches.
Chicken and chicken meal is differentiated simply by their moisture content.
Chicken, when being added to a recipe, contains a high percentage of moisture and may even have had water added – it is not uncommon for it to contain 80% moisture.
Chicken meal on the other hand has already had most of the moisture removed before being added to the recipe.
The misleading aspect of this ingredient listing is that when a complete dried food with chicken as the first ingredient is finished and packaged the moisture has been reduced in the whole recipe to around 8 – 10%. The reality is that pet owners do not realize that chicken, being the first ingredient listed, may only in fact be the 4th, 5th or even 6th ingredient by volume when production is finished. Often the chicken listing is given as a percentage say 26% but if the moisture was not allowed to be included the actual chicken would be less than 6%.
Chicken meal as already mentioned has had the moisture removed prior to inclusion in the diet but is not allowed to be listed in the same way as chicken.
In short – chicken listed as the first ingredient as in the above example is misleading the pet owning public.
To make ingredient listing is pet food more open the rules should be change to reflect the amount included as per the final finished ingredient.
Organic chicken listed as the first ingredient also implies the same as above and it its extreme conveys to the public that a large percentage of the finished product contain Organic chicken when the reality is that its only a tiny fraction of the food.